Skip to main content
Insight

Partners react to Croydon tram tragedy

Paul McNeil head of personal injury and medical negligence and Fieldfisher expects the claims arising from the Croydon tram crash to reach many millions of pounds.

Following the Croydon tram crash on Wednesday in which seven people were killed and more than 50 taken to hospital, Fieldfisher's train accident claim team is investigating the cause of the accident in readiness of potential claims against Transport for London (TfL).

Fieldfisher has vast experience of train accident claims, having acted for those involved in the Clapham Junction rail crash in 1988, where 35 people died, the Cannon Street crash in 1991 when the brakes of a commuter train failed, the Hatfield rail crash in 2000 and the Potters Bar rail accident in 2002.

Fieldfisher also acted for victims of two accidents involving Great Western trains at Ladbroke Grove in 1999 where 31 people were killed, and at Southall in 1997, where seven people were killed when a high-speed train failed to stop at a red signal.

Jill Greenfield also represented pro bono victims of the 7/7 London transport bombings in 2005.

Passengers on the busy Croydon tram, travelling from New Addington to Wimbledon, said afterwards that the tram seemed to be travelling far too fast. Packed with commuters on their way to East Croydon railway station, the tram derailed on a sharp bend with a speed limit of 12mph. Trams can travel of speeds up to 50mph.

One passenger said that usually the tram breaks when it comes out of the tunnel between the Lloyd Park and Sandilands, but on Wednesday morning it failed to slow down. After the tram derailed, it slid for between eight and 10 seconds before coming to a halt, the passenger said.

The British Transport Police have arrested the 42-year-old male driver on suspicion of manslaughter. They are investigating whether he blacked out or fell asleep at the controls.

TfL which operates Croydon Tramlink is ultimately responsible for its drivers. Depending on the results of the investigation, passengers and the bereaved will likely be entitled to substantial compensation, which could amount to tens of millions of pounds.

A report in the Guardian today suggested that a similar, near-miss incident occurred on the same stretch of line on 31 October, although there were no reports that anyone was hurt.

The Croydon tragedy is the first fatal tram crash in Britain for nearly 60 years. According to the Telegraph, the last known death of a tram passenger in an accident happened in 1959.

Investigators will be working to discover what happened in this latest transport tragedy in Croydon, with a view to providing answers for people involved and to prevent further accidents.

Partners Jill Greenfield and Paul McNeil, who worked with families involved in previous rail accidents, said they are deeply saddened by the Croydon tram accident and will support those affected.