Croydon tram drivers could strike over plans for cameras to check if they are asleep

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London’s tram drivers could strike over plans to introduce cameras to check if they are sleeping or distracted.

Transport for London (TfL) is testing a “driver protection device” (DPD) that will set off an alarm if the driver falls asleep after people came forward with video footage of Croydon tram drivers asleep in the cab.

But the Aslef union said that although it supports new measures for safety, its members had not been consulted over the plans to use infrared and facial recognition technology to monitor drivers’ faces.

TfL said cameras will record when triggered by infrared sensors but would not be permanently set to record. 

Finn Brennan, Aslef officer for the tram network, told the Croydon Advertiser: “The decision to choose this system and start to install it without any discussion with staff or trade unions showed complete disregard for the views of their drivers.

“Aslef want to see the introduction of new technology that can prevent accidents, but there is no evidence that the system Tramlink are putting in would have done anything to prevent the terrible tragedy at Sandilands.”

Aslef will ballot members on September 18 on whether to take industrial action that could include striking or other moves such as an overtime ban.

Rory O’Neill, Transport for London’s director of trams, said: “We are committed to improving safety for drivers and customers on the tram network and encourage the unions to continue working constructively with First Group to do so.”

Plans for the DPDs come after seven people were killed in a crash in November when a tram travelling between New Addington and Wimbledon came off the rails.

An investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch found that the tram had gone into a tight left-bend at 74 kmph (46 mph), more than three times the speed limit of 20 kmph (13mph).

Driver Alfred Dorris “lost awareness” as he approached the bend, according to the report. He was arrested at the scene and questioned on suspicion of manslaughter and has been bailed until September.

Concerns were also raised after Croydon tram drivers were filmed asleep in the cab by shocked commuters who feared for their safety.

Separately from the DPDs, TfL also plans to install devices to brake automatically if a tram edges over the speed limit.

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