…By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
The trial at the Old Bailey has revealed that Alfred Dorris, the driver involved in the Croydon tram disaster, was traveling at more than three times the speed limit when the tram derailed, leading to the deaths of seven passengers.
The incident occurred on November 9, 2016, near the Sandilands stop.
Dorris is now facing trial for a health and safety failing, as brought forward by the Office of Rail and Road.
Prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman KC described the tragic outcome, highlighting the seven lives lost and the 19 individuals who suffered severe injuries, likening their experience to being flung around “inside a washing machine.”
The victims were identified as Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, Robert Huxley, 63, Philip Logan, 52, Donald Collett, 62, and Mark Smith, 35.
The Prosecution’s Account of the Incident
Mr. Ashley-Norman emphasized that the Croydon tram accident on that fateful morning would be etched in the memory of all adults in the UK.
Tram 2551 was operating from New Addington to Wimbledon via East Croydon.
As part of the route, the tram approached Sandilands, preceded by a sharp left-hand turn.
Drivers were instructed to reduce speed to 20 kph to safely navigate the curve, as indicated by a sign.
However, in this case, the tram failed to slow down and was traveling at over 70 kph when it entered the turn, causing it to derail.
The tram tipped onto its side, resulting in passengers being flung around within the carriage, windows breaking, and doors being ripped off.
The ejected victims became trapped between the overturned tram and the track, leading to their tragic deaths.
The Accusation and Dorris’s Defense
Dorris is accused of failing in his duty to exercise reasonable care for the passengers.
However, he denies the charge and will argue that factors beyond his control, particularly issues with the infrastructure at Sandilands, caused him to become disoriented.
The court heard that Transport for London and TOL also bear responsibility for health and safety failures within the Croydon tram network.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ashley-Norman made it clear that their failures do not absolve Dorris of his alleged negligence.
Dorris’s Account and Denial of Blackout or Falling Asleep
In interviews, Dorris stated that he had become disoriented and was unsure of the direction he was traveling.
He described feeling upset, confused, and traumatized.
He denied suffering from a blackout or falling asleep at the wheel.
According to Dorris, the bend where the accident occurred took him by surprise, and he attributed the incident to disorientation rather than a loss of concentration or control.
Dorris’s Plea and Trial Continuation
Alfred Dorris, residing in Beckenham, southeast London, pleads not guilty to a charge of failing to exercise reasonable care at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The trial, presided over by Mr. Justice Fraser, is expected to last five weeks.