Safety review urged after child cyclist knocked down at Metrolink tram stop in Greater Manchester

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has made a number of recommendations to the authorities about the crossing point in its investigation into the collision which happened last year.
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A pedestrian crossing in Greater Manchester where a young cyclist suffered serious injuries in a collision with the tram has unidentified hazards and needs reviewing, the probe into the crash has found.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has made a number of recommendations for the authorities after investigating the incident which happened near the Audenshaw stop on the Metrolink last year.

It found that the risk to pedestrians from traffic coming in both directions was not adequately picked up at the design stage or realised until it was too late to do anything about it.

Transport bosses said they welcomed the report’s findings and would be asking an independent expert to look again at the site to see if changes need to be made.

What does the RAIB say happened?

The RAIB investigated a collision between a young cyclist and a tram on the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Droylsden Road and Kershaw Lane in Tameside.

The incident happened at about 7.25pm on Wednesday 1 September 2021 and the young cyclist suffered serious injuries.

The tram was travelling westbound on a journey from Ashton-under-Lyne towards Manchester city centre when the collision happened.

What does the RAIB say about why the collision occurred?

The RAIB described the pedestrian crossing, which is signal-operated, as being located in an unusual position.

This is because even though it is located in the middle of the carriageway, users still need to be aware that traffic may approach from either direction when deciding to cross.

The investigation concluded that the cyclist was probably focused on the eastbound road traffic and therefore was unlikely to know that the tram was approaching westbound when he stepped off the pedestrian refuge.

The report also concluded that he did not wait for the puffin crossing to turn green before setting off.

Based on all this, the RAIB concluded that an underlying factor behind the collision happening was that the risk assessment processes applied during the design, construction and opening of the East Manchester Line did not identify the hazard to pedestrians created by the crossing layout until the tramway construction was too far along to easily change it.

What recommendations has the RAIB made?

The RAIB has made five recommendations to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Tameside Council in the wake of its report.

It said the two authorities should review the layout of the crossing near the Audenshaw stop in light of the accident.

TfGM has also been told it should review its safety management system to ensure that adequate processes are in place, both within the transport body and the contractors it employs, to identify hazards such as this and better control risks at the design stage of tram projects.

The RAIB also said the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB) should review the application of road safety audits as a means to identify and mitigate hazards during tramway development and construction.

A Metrolink tram in Manchester Credit: ShutterstockA Metrolink tram in Manchester Credit: Shutterstock
A Metrolink tram in Manchester Credit: Shutterstock

In addition, it wants the tram system’s operator Keolis Amey Metrolink (KAM) to review the operational risk assessments across the Metrolink network to make sure they are adequate and complete.

Finally, the RAIB says TfGM and KAM should review the reliability, operation and maintenance of the sanding systems which are used to help the tram stop as quickly as possible when the driver has to do emergency braking. The CCTV systems on the trams being used should also be checked, the investigation branch said.

The RAIB also identified a learning point, reminding duty holders of the importance of ensuring all records, documents and knowledge are transferred across when changes are made in an organisation.

What has TfGM said?

TfGM said the tram system has a very good safety record but that made it all the more important to react and learn when things went wrong. It said the crossing had already been checked in the wake of the collision but a second opinion would now be sought.

TfGM’s head of Metrolink, Danny Vaughan, said: “This was a deeply upsetting incident that will have lasting consequences for the young boy involved and our thoughts remain very much with him and his family.

“Whilst light rail is a very safe mode of transport, when things do go wrong it is vitally important lessons are learnt from them. That is why we welcome the very thorough and detailed investigation carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

“The road junction in question has been in use since 2013 and was one of dozens of busy junctions developed as part of the very successful expansion of Metrolink that has seen us treble in size to become the UK’s largest tram network.

“With large sections of on-street running, ensuring the safety of tram passengers and all other road users has been, and will continue to be, our priority.

“Since this incident we have undertaken a detailed review of the junction with Tameside Council and the Metrolink operator.

“We have assessed the layout of the junction against others and while we are confident it remains the safest design option, we will be asking an independent expert to examine the site to see whether any improvements can be made, in line with the RAIB recommendation.

“We will continue to work with the operator and other partners to review all other recommendations within the report, so that we can continue to maintain high standards of safety across the network.”

What has Tameside Council said?

A Tameside Council spokesperson said: “Tameside Council fully supports the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the accident near Audenshaw tram stop on 1 September, 2021. We are pleased it notes that we freely co-operated in the inquiry.

“From the outset, we wish to make it clear that our main concern is for the 11-year old boy who was seriously hurt and our best wishes and thoughts go out to him and his family.

“We will do all we can to prevent a reoccurrence of this terrible event, and to that end Tameside Council fully supports and accepts the RAIB report and its findings.

“In line with its recommendations, we commit to working in partnership with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) on a full and independently reviewed assessment of the crossing and its lay-out to identify any measures we can implement to reduce risk.”

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