Could a Croydon Tram style accident occur on Metrolink?

In the aftermath of the Croydon Tram incident many questions were being raised, however the RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) have just issued their report states “The RAIB’s investigation concluded that it is probable that the driver temporarily lost awareness on a section of route on which his workload was low. The investigation has found that a possible explanation for this loss of awareness was that the driver had a microsleep, and that this was linked to fatigue”

Metrolink used to have a set of ‘parameters’ which set out the duty lengths, rest periods between duty’s, rest periods during duty’s and so on, for drivers, these gave strict limits on driving and were better, and safer, than the legal limits.

However Unite signed away these strict ‘parameters’ to allow the Metrolink operator to:

  1. Increase the length of duty’s from average 7.5 hours to some now being 9.5 hours long
  2. Instead of a rest break between the 3rd and 5th hour of their duty a driver can now work 5.5 hours without a break.
  3. Some drivers are having to drive an up to an hour to get to work, do a 9.5 hour shift, and then drive up to another hour after work to get home, which was not taken into account when working out the duties.

The above naturally increases the fatigue levels of drivers, the risk of ‘microsleep’, and the risk of incidents occurring with trams when a driver is suffering from fatigue.

Why did Unite sign an agreement that increased the working day for the drivers, increased the time before having a break, which increases fatigue, when other unions are looking to reduce Fatigue and increase safety on our public transport?

Stephen Morris

General Secretary

Workers of England Union