Meanwhile, it can be revealed a chief engineer had written a report in 2006 warning Tram Operations Ltd that Sandilands Tunnel needed to try a lower speed limit of 37mph (60kph) because drivers were “braking heavily” and at “the last moment” before approaching the now notorious bend.
Jim Snowdon, chief engineer at Tramtrack Croydon Ltd, which ran the infrastructure before TfL took over in 2008 warned there were “few visual clues as to location … [in the tunnel and] there is the potential for the driver to lose awareness of the distance to approaching hazards”.
He did not think Tram Operations Ltd responded to his report, adding how there was “hostility” between that company and his.
Families of victims left ‘bitterly disappointed’
Jean Smith, 64, mother of Mark Smith who died in the accident, said: “I am bitterly disappointed as justice has not been done today. It has been a total farce as we have only heard half of the evidence and no one who could potentially have been responsible for the crash has been called as a witness.
“It’s morally wrong that we haven’t been able to hear from anybody from TfL, TOL or the driver during the proceedings, whatever legal precedent says. It feels like they have been able to hide from giving evidence and it simply isn’t fair or just. Justice has been suffocated because of the coroner’s ruling.
“All we want as families is justice for our loved ones, yet four and half years on, the inquest has created more anguish and pain because we have been left with so many unanswered questions.”
Ms Smith added: “We have been asked to accept the findings of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) without question, but this is completely unjust. Our legal team will be writing to the Attorney General to ask him to seek an order for a new inquest and separately, to seek permission for judicial review. This fight is not over.”
Ben Posford, partner and Head of Catastrophic Injury at London law firm Osbornes Law, which represented five of the seven families, said relatives were angry that after an agonising wait they still have not secured justice for those they lost.
He said: “The families of those who died are understandably angry and upset at today’s conclusion and that they have been unable to hear from those responsible for the systemic failings that led to their loved one’s deaths.
“They have had an agonising wait for justice but have been let down by the process that has allowed the managers of TfL and TOL to dodge giving evidence and avoid giving the families the answers they so desperately need. Instead of gaining a greater understanding of how and why their loved ones died, they have been badly let down.
“Ultimately they feel that nobody has been held accountable for the tragic events almost five years ago and will keep fighting for justice for their loved ones. As a result, we will be pursuing the legal options open to us by calling on the Attorney General to apply to the High Court for a new inquest. The families will also be considering judicial review proceedings against the coroner, to get the answers they deserve.”