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Tramlink begins search for automatic braking system

Tramlink Variobahn 2557 at Elmers End in early 2017; the new platform planned for later in the year is designed to increase capacity on the network. Image credit: Neil Pulling

Transport for London (TfL) is seeking a supplier for a new automatic braking system that would see a London Tramlink vehicle brought to a controlled stop if it exceeded the speed limit at designated high-risk locations. An official Invitation to Tender is expected this summer with a contract placed by the end of October for installation by the end of 2019.

Although initially focusing on priority locations suggested by the UK’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), the chosen system is required to be flexible enough to be rolled out across the network. The tender includes options over a five-year period for maintenance and additional units; the specification includes a requirement for notification of the system’s control centre in incidents of speeding.

Feasibility studies have been in progress since the derailment of tram 2551 at Sandilands on 9 November 2016 that resulted in seven deaths and 51 injuries. The procurement addresses RAIB Recommendation 3 that ‘UK tram operators, owners and infrastructure managers should work together to review, develop and install suitable measures to automatically reduce tram speeds if they approach higher risk locations at speeds which could result in derailment or overturning’.

Work continues in evaluating options for improving the containment provided by tram windows and doors to address Recommendation 6, and testing is underway on a new ‘iTram’ system adapted from that used on London Buses (addressing Recommendation 5) to monitor vehicle speed and location as well as provide enhanced real-time passenger information