Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Family 'shocked' at Edinburgh tram death safety failings

Carlos Correa Palacio Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Carlos Correa died after being hit by a tram in Edinburgh

The family of a man killed by a tram have said they are "shocked" by the safety failings identified by rail investigators.

Carlos Correa, 53, died last year after being hit while crossing a tram line in the Saughton area of the city.

A Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report has recommended a review of all off-street pedestrian crossings on the line.

Investigators had previously warned the tram horns were not loud enough.

The RAIB report stated that Mr Correa, a bus driver, was seemingly unaware that the tram was approaching when he walked onto the crossing and that his visibility was reduced by shrubs and trees alongside the line near the Saughton tram stop,

Edinburgh Trams said it had now removed this foliage, added extra safety measures at the off-street crossing and installed louder horns on its vehicles.

Image copyright RAIB
Image caption The image on the left is from the tram's CCTV at around 73m (239.5ft) from the crossing, and 4.6 seconds before the collision, with the arrow indicating where Mr Correa emerges from. The image on the right was taken 18m (59ft) from the crossing, and 1.2 seconds before the collision, with the rectangle showing the location of Mr Correa.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Correa's family, Jayne Crawford, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: "The family, who are still grieving their loss, are shocked by a damning report prepared by the RAIB identifying several areas of failings in respect of public safety.

"Even the most basic risk assessment and investigation would have identified appropriate safety measures, any one of which could have prevented Mr Correa's death.

"In essence, the report suggests that in the many millions of public funds lavished on the Edinburgh's tram project, little attention was paid to simple, industry standard, safety measures.

"The family welcome the recommendations set out within the RAIB's report and hope that Edinburgh trams follow up on the necessary safety measures to ensure that such tragic accidents are prevented in the future."

Not loud enough

Mr Correa had just finished a shift as a bus driver for Lothian Buses when he was crossing the tram line.

The 53-year-old, according to CCTV on the tram, walked directly into the path of the tram when it was about 18m (59ft) away.

Investigators said the tram driver saw Mr Correa approaching the crossing and applied the service brake to reduce the tram's speed, as well as sounding repeated warnings using the tram's bell.

They said Mr Correa did not respond to the audible warnings and continued onto the crossing.

The driver then operated the emergency brake - which automatically activated the warning horn - before arriving at the crossing.

Image caption Edinburgh Trams said improvements had been made to the crossing at Saughton, including additional signs and a small fence being built to guide pedestrians to a safe crossing point

The RAIB found that the tram's warning horn was up to eight decibels short of the levels specified by guidance - meaning it was not suitably noticeable above background noise.

The report states that, "it is possible that the pedestrian may have looked for approaching trams while he was still some way away from the crossing as he walked towards it. However, clear views of the tramway to the east from the footpath are interrupted by bushes on the edge of the footpath and two trees adjacent to the track".

Evidence provided to the RAIB by Mr Correa's family indicated that he had been feeling tired prior to the day of the accident, possibly due to his working patterns and the quality of his sleep.

The RAIB said his working patterns may have contributed to his fatigue but Lothian Buses said his rostered hours were within the limits stated in the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency guidance.

Since the accident, Edinburgh Trams has implemented four temporary speed restrictions of a maximum speed of 25mph in both directions, covering seven of its footpath crossings, where the maximum permitted speed had previously been 44mph.

Lea Harrison, managing director of Edinburgh Trams, said: "Providing a safe tramway for the city is imperative for Edinburgh Trams.

"We have worked closely with the RAIB throughout their investigation, and prior to the publication of today's report Edinburgh Trams installed a new louder horn system across the fleet.

"Improvements have been made to the crossing at Saughton including additional signage, alerting pedestrians look both ways for trams and a small fence has been built to guide pedestrians to a safe crossing point.

"Foliage and hedges have also been removed to improve sightlines. An off-street crossings review has been completed with all additional measures to be implemented by the end of 2019."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The procurator fiscal received a report into the death of a 53-year old-man in Edinburgh on 11 September 2018. The investigation, under the direction of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing."