The widow of a family man killed in the Croydon tram disaster says a “substantial” damages settlement from Transport for London is just the ‘first hurdle’ in her struggle to come to terms with losing her “lovely and generous” husband.
Marilyn Logan, 64, was left bereft after the death of her husband Philip, 52, in the derailment on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, which killed seven people and injured 50.
Eighteen months on, she has now received a ‘substantial’ compensation settlement from the London transport operator, but says the lack of any criminal proceedings to date, combined with a ‘lack of compassion’ she says has been shown to those who lost loved ones, has left her ‘angry and bitter’.
“I may now have a damages settlement for losing my wonderful husband, but it doesn’t bring closure for me as we still have the inquests into the deaths and a court case to go through. This is just the first hurdle for me,” she said.
“I am still very bitter towards Transport for London (TfL), just for the way they’ve reacted to things, or not reacted. I have never had a personal letter from them, and when I went to a TfL meeting with a reporter from my local paper they didn’t even acknowledge me in the room.
“The tram driver has still not been charged with any offence and I feel very angry about that too. In my opinion he cannot walk away when he took seven lives.”
Mr Logan was killed when travelling on the tram running from New Addington to Wimbledon. It was on the approach to Sandilands tram stop soon after 6am when it derailed.
A report into the tragedy by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), published in December 2017, found that driver Alfred Dorris had probably “dozed off” moments before the accident, and that the tram had been travelling three times the speed limit. The limit was 12.5mph and investigations showed it was travelling at 43.5mph.
The RAIB also revealed that drivers had previously applied their emergency brakes at the same corner on nine occasions before the accident, but none had reported doing so, saying a reluctance among some drivers to report their own mistakes had meant safety problems were overlooked.
One driver had come close to derailing just days before the accident on November 9, which claimed the life of Mr Logan and six others.
Mr Logan, a bricklayer who had been on his regular journey to work, was killed instantly after being thrown from the carriage. He died as a result of severe head and chest injuries.
The compensation settlement was agreed by TfL after Mrs Logan was represented by personal injury specialists Hudgell Solicitors.
Mrs Logan said counselling paid for by TfL following her husband’s death had helped her come to terms with her loss, but says she knows she still faces many difficult days ahead.
“The counselling did help as I wasn’t in a good way, and I was burying everything. The counsellor taught me how not to bury it, and how to deal with the grief,” she said.
“The settlement doesn’t end it for any of us though. It doesn’t bring closure yet, as we still have the inquests and a court case to go through. This is just the first hurdle for me and it has all left me angry and bitter.’
Solicitor says tragedy was an accident waiting to happen
Matthew Tuff, senior solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors, said the settlement was a reflection on the loss of a hard-working and loving husband who had been cruelly taken away, but is critical of the failings that allowed the incident to happen.
“Sadly, like so many significant disasters which cost lives, this was a tragedy waiting to happen and we have only seen sensible measures to enhance safety after the event.
“Drivers were overworked and there were few safety mechanisms in place at the time of the accident.
“New speed restrictions have now been introduced across the tram network, better signage has been placed on bends and systems have been introduced in cabs to detect and prevent driver fatigue and distraction. A new automatic braking system on the network is also being promised.
“These are certainly welcome changes, but these are measures that should have been in place already.
“We are pleased that we were able to secure a substantial damages settlement as Mr Logan was still a relatively young man with a long working life ahead of him. He supported a wife and step-children, had grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved him and relied on him, and he was very much involved in their lives.
“His death was obviously very traumatic for the whole extended family, and the way in which Mrs Logan had her husband’s death confirmed was unforgiveable.
“Of course, financial settlements can never come close to making up for the sadness and grief that a family goes through in situations like this, and as Mrs Logan has said, there is still a long way to go before they have full closure. We hope this settlement does help them though as a family.”
Death was announced on Sky News before police confirmed it to family
Mrs Logan, from New Addington, Croydon, said confirmation of her husband’s death was not made by police liaison officers, but instead she found out by watching Sky News.
Recalling the morning of the disaster, she said: “It was absolute hell. That morning, it had filtered through to Addington, where we lived, that something had happened with the tram. Phil always got the tram to work, and met up with his work partner.
“That morning, I was at my daughter’s, taking my grandson to school, and I said to her that there was a possibility that Phil had been on that tram. I took my grandson to school still, as I didn’t want him to hear anything or be involved.
“I came straight home and my sister-in-law Susan, Phil’s sister, rang me and asked to come over. We both went down to Croydon where they had set up a centre for relatives. We were there for three-and-a-half hours, and they kept telling us they didn’t know any names of those that had been killed.
“A young police officer then told us he had been found and was injured and at St George’s Hospital, so we rushed down there at about midday. I had been ringing his phone all this time but it was going straight through to his voicemail.
“We waited at St George’s and I gave a policeman there Phil’s details. They told us to wait and to get ourselves a coffee. I approached three different policemen, and the last time I said ‘I am starting to get angry now’. I said I had been told my husband was there and I asked if he was dead.
“I was then told that a Mr Logan had been there the day before and had been discharged, and he was older than Phil. I’d given them all his details about what he was wearing and how old he was, I don’t know how they could have mixed it up.
“We came home at about 5pm that evening, and my daughter had flown in from Ireland by this point. They set up a resource centre in Addington so we went there, we were clutching at straws really. We rang round all the hospitals ourselves, and we were getting nowhere.
“I think I knew then that he was gone, as he was such a home person and I knew he would have come home if he could. My daughter said maybe he was flung from the carriages and was lying injured, and that they’d find him.
“That night, two police liaison officers came to talk us through the process of everything but they still couldn’t tell us if he had passed away.
“It wasn’t until the Saturday, three days after the accident, that my daughter rang me and said ‘put the TV on, they’ve said Phil’s name’. Apparently Transport for London had released the names of the dead to Sky News. The police liaison officers were on their way to tell me, but they didn’t arrive in time, and I found out from the TV that he’d died.
“I flew at them both when they arrived and they said they were sorry.
“It made me very, very angry because although I knew he had passed away, I couldn’t tell the children or grandchildren or his sister until it was confirmed. I suppose they were thinking along the same lines, but no-one wanted to say it.”
Husband was a ‘lovely, generous man who would do anything for anyone’
Speaking about the man she married, Mrs Logan said: “We met in a working man’s club, he was there to play snooker or darts, and he asked if I wanted a drink, and it went from there. We were together for 32 years and married for 22 years, and my four children were like his children, and the grandchildren and great-grandchildren were like his own.
“He was a lovely man, generous, and he would do anything for anyone. He was very family-orientated, and what made it worse was that Phil had not long before lost his mum and dad, so his sister lost everyone in a short time.
“Phil was one of the last to be found, at 9.30pm. When they lifted the tram, he was found trapped underneath.
“I do feel ‘why me?’ And I think I always will feel that way.”
Transport for London admitted liability for the accident in March 2017 and has been involved in negotiations with families over settlements since.