£1.5 million government funding for an industry-wide safety body has been welcomed by the organisation representing the UK’s light rail sector.
In response to a report into the 2016 derailing of a tram in Croydon – which claimed the lives of seven people – UK Tram has been leading efforts to establish a cross-sector organisation responsible for driving forward safety standards.
The funding announced today (Thursday, February 7) by Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP will see the formation of a new, independent, Light Rail Safety Standards Board (LRSSB).
James Hammett, UK Tram Managing Director, explained: “Published late in 2017, the report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) made a number of recommendations.
“Since then our safety working group has made significant progress in addressing issues highlighted by the RAIB and laid the foundations for the new organisation.
“Now, with funding secured from the Department for Transport, we’re looking forward to seeing the next step in the evolution of the LRSSB and further improving what’s already one of the safest modes of transport.”
In the short term, the organisation will remain under the leadership of Interim Chief Executive, Peter Cushing, and he says he is looking forward to helping in the recruitment of a permanent successor in 2019.
“Funding from the DfT is a real boost for the whole light rail sector and its customers,” Peter said. “In the months ahead, we’re planning to recruit two full-time safety professionals with particular expertise in risk modelling.”
Drawing on experience and expertise from across the sector, the LRSSB will work ever more closely with the DfT and Office of Rail and Road on safety issues and securing future funding to continue its vital work.
In the meantime, the appointment of a new non-executive board will build on the work already done by members of the UK Trams safety group.
“We are committed to ensuring all the lessons are learned from the Croydon tragedy and ensuring that safety remains the number one priority as light rail becomes an increasingly important solution to urban congestion and other environmental concerns,” Peter added.