Report 04/2006: Derailment at Phipps Bridge

Derailment of tram at Phipps Bridge, near Merton, Surrey, 21 October 2005.


The tram was travelling eastbound on the single line between Wimbledon and Croydon with approximately 45 passengers on board. It became derailed as it passed over points at the single to double line junction on the approach to Phipps Bridge tram stop near Merton, Surrey at 10.38 hrs on Friday 21 October 2005.

The tram came to rest about 37m beyond the points. There were no injuries and the passengers were evacuated to the adjacent tram stop by the driver and other staff. Following repairs to minor track damage, normal services were reinstated at 21.10 hrs on the same day.

The immediate cause was the tram driver not reacting to a track-side warning that the points were incorrectly set and failing to stop the tram before reaching the points.

Contributing factors were:

  • failure of the points to return to normal after the passage of the previous tram;
  • failure of the control room staff to alert drivers to the malfunction of the points;
  • the poor clarity of the points position indicator display when the points are not set correctly.

Four recommendations are made to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of this incident. They cover:

  • Assessing and improving the clarity of the points indicator when points are not correctly set
  • A review of the inspection and maintenance regime for the points
  • A joint review of the system for dealing with alarms in the control room
  • A review of control room procedures as soon as is practicable to ensure that controllers respond promptly and appropriately to each incident.

Response to recommendations:

  • RAIB will periodically update the status of recommendations as reported to us by the relevant safety authority or public body.
  • RAIB may add comment, particularly if we have concerns regarding these responses.

RAIB Recommendation response for Phipps Bridge

Updates to this page

Published 10 December 2014