The installation of automatic braking at high-risk locations was one of 15 recommendations set out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) following a fatal accident on November 9 2016 involving an LRV which derailed and overturned on the approach to Sandilands Junction on the Croydon Tramlink network south of London. Excessive speed was cited as the cause for the derailment that killed seven and injured 62 passengers.

The automatic braking system, also known as the Physical Prevention of Over-Speeding (PPOS), will automatically apply the brakes and bring a moving LRV to a controlled stop if it exceeds the speed limit at designated locations. The safety measure is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019, following a period of training and drive familiarisation.

PPOS will operate alongside the system that has been in use since September 2017 which alerts drivers to distraction and fatigue.

All 15 recommendations set out by the RAIB following the crash have now been implemented or are under development, including a permanent speed reduction across the 28km tram network from 80km/h to 70km/h, speed monitoring and signage at significant curves, and an enhanced customer complaints process.

A new emergency lighting system, which will operate independently of an LRV’s battery in the event of an emergency, has also been procured and will be installed over the summer. In addition, a new higher-specification film that is 75% thicker will be fitted to all doors and windows to improve containment.

“Awarding the contract for a new automatic braking system is a first for trams in Britain, and not only will it improve safety for customers in London, but we hope it will lead the way for other tram operators across the country,” says TfL’s general manager of London Trams, Mr Mark Davis.