Croydon, London: The inquest into the deaths of the seven people killed when a tram derailed in the dark at 06:07 on Wednesday 9 November 2016 at Sandilands Junction, will start on Monday 17 May.
Of the 70 people on board the tram at the time of the crash, seven died and 62 were injured, 19 seriously.
The Senior Coroner for Croydon, Sarah Ormond-Walsh, will sit with a jury to hear the evidence relating to the deaths of Dane Chinnery, 19, Philip Logan, 52, Philip Seary, 57, Dorota Rynkiewicz, 35, and Robert Huxley, 63, all from New Addington, and Mark Smith, 35, and Donald Collett, 62, from Croydon.
Ben Posford, partner and head of catastrophic injury at London law firm Osbornes Law is lead solicitor for five of the seven families (the families of Mr Logan, Mr Seary, Ms Rynkiewicz, Mr Smith, and Mr Collett).
Speaking on behalf of the five families on the eve of the inquest, he says: “This has been a long and agonising wait for all the families. We believe they were badly let down by the tram operators, Tram Operations Limited (ToL), a subsidiary of First Group, and Transport for London (TfL). As such, their hope for the inquest is that it will give them a better understanding, and some long overdue answers, as to why their loved ones are no longer here. Importantly, they also want to make sure that lessons are learned, and changes made in relation to the systemic failures and poor management culture that led to the crash, so that nothing like this can happen again.”
Ben Posford has instructed one of the UK’s leading personal injury and inquest lawyers, Andrew Ritchie QC, who says: “The five families hope for a full and fearless coronial investigation of the causes and all parties owe it to the families to expose the truth about how and in what circumstances the crash on 9 November 2016 was allowed to occur.
“This inquest is about the inherent and foreseeable human failings of public transport drivers and how ToL and TfL (Transport for London) failed to take safety measures to prevent disasters arising from such human failings.
“Furthermore, it is very disappointing to the families that the driver of the tram has been diagnosed unfit to attend the inquest, but they still hope that they will hear an apology from him.”
Mr Ritchie also confirmed that civil claims on behalf of the families have been settled with TfL and their insurers, QBE. Mr Ritchie said they had “…acted impeccably and swiftly” to settle the bereaved families’ compensation claims.
The coroner will hear from the Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB), the British Transport Police and witnesses from some of the interested parties including the tram operator ToL and London Trams, which being part of TfL was responsible for the tramway infrastructure.
RAIB’s 2018 report into the crash can be viewed here. RAIB concluded that the driver either fell asleep or became disorientated in the Sandilands tunnel. They also concluded that ToL’s risk assessments and safety precautions against their drivers’ human failings were inadequate. TfL appointed SNC-LAVALIN to carry out an independent report into the crash. The report and recommendations can be viewed here.
Other interested parties include: London TravelWatch, Aslef and the driver.
Jury selection will take place on Monday 17 May, Pen Portraits will be read by the families on Tuesday 18 May. These will be delivered in person.
It is intended that the advocates will be in court throughout the inquest, families have the option of joining remotely or attending. Media have been asked to contact the coroner’s office if they want to attend firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the Serious Injury team at Osbornes Law call 0207 485 8811