Edinburgh trams: Drivers identify 3 safety risks

Edinburgh tram drivers have identified three safety concerns. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh tram drivers have identified three safety concerns. Picture: TSPL
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TRANSPORT chiefs have been urged to resolve a series of alleged faults on Edinburgh tram vehicles, including faulty windscreen heaters, broken warning bells and problems with safety cameras.

Drivers are understood to be increasingly concerned about safety, with one telling The Scotsman that management had failed to act despite warnings.

He said onboard cameras are frequently “glared” by the sun, meaning staff cannot monitor passengers boarding or see rails.

One driver claimed he and others have been given rolls of blue paper towel to help clear the windows as blowers fitted in the cabs do not work properly.
He said: “It’s only a matter of time before there’s an accident because of one of these issues.

The driver went on: “We are instructed to use the bell to warn pedestrians and motorists that the tram is approaching and to clear the way, but it quite often fails to work.

“Another issue is the CCTV monitors in the cab. On sunny days and when the sun is at a certain angle, the sun shines directly on to the camera lens so you cannot see anything along the side of the tram or platform.

“We have told the bosses on numerous occasions about these problems, but nothing’s been done.”

John Carson, a former director of maintenance for Network Rail, said the claims needed to be examined by Transport for Edinburgh, the Edinburgh city council body.

He said: “The fact that drivers cannot see the rails or the platform at times is very worrying and these issues need to be addressed.”

The concerns come amid a series of accidents including yesterday, when one tram collided with a First bus in the city’s West End, and a 14-year old girl was struck with a “glancing blow” while crossing Princes Street in June.

The tram system recently drew criticism during the hot weather in June and July, when passengers complained of stifling heat.

The vehicles, which cost £2 million, are not fitted with air conditioning. The decision was taken by the now defunct Transport Initiatives Edinburgh in 2007 when it placed an order with Spanish firm CAF for 27 trams. Every carriage is fitted with a ventilation system which will only recycle hot air during hot weather rather than cool it.

Most UK tram systems have air conditioning as standard. Vehicles in Nottingham, Manchester and Sheffield were retro-fitted.

A spokesman for Edinburgh Trams said: “Safety is our number one priority and our record is very good. If there was any fault with a tram that would make it unsafe to operate, we would remove it from service.”