Croydon tram crash: Driver released on bail after being arrested on suspicion of manslaughter

Updated: 

The driver of a tram that crashed, killing seven people, in south London has been released on bail.

The 42-year-old man, from Beckenham, was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after the tram flipped on its side in Croydon during the morning rush hour on Wednesday.

He was bailed until May while the investigation continues, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

Investigators said the tram was travelling at a "significantly higher speed than is permitted" and are probing whether the driver had fallen asleep.

Croydon tram accident.
The tram derailed near the Sandilands stop in Croydon (RAIB0)

More than 50 people were injured when the vehicle left the track.

Dane Chinnery, 19, a football fan described as a "friendly, genuine lad", was among those killed.

Tom Dale, 20, was on the tram and said he recalled nodding over to his old school friend Chinnery, who was already sitting on the tram when he boarded.

The pair, who went to Addington High School together and took part in performing arts, were on their way to work.

Croydon tram accident.
Floral tributes left at the scene of the accident (Steve Parsons/PA)

Dale said that after the tram crashed, he looked for his friend, asking: "Where's Dane? Where's Dane?," but all he could see was Chinnery's boot where he had been sitting.

"It was like walking out of a war zone," the chef said.

Dale, who was badly bruised, said of Chinnery: "He was just a friendly, genuine lad, did no harm to nobody, really. No-one deserves for this to happen to them."

Tributes for Chinnery, believed to be a Crystal Palace fan, were left on social media:

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who visited the scene on Wednesday, warned the death toll could increase.

BTP said forensics teams are expected to stay at the crash site until Thursday evening at the earliest, and identifying the dead may be a "complex and lengthy process".

The tram was travelling from New Addington to Wimbledon via Croydon when the accident happened at 6.10am.

The scene of the crash was described as "total carnage" after the two-carriage tram tipped over in heavy rain next to an underpass.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan talking to the media in Croydon (Steve Parsons/PA)

Survivors rescued from the wreckage said the tram failed to brake in its usual place at a bend on the track after speeding up. One said the driver told them he thought he had "blacked out".

Martin Bamford, 30, from Croydon, said he recalled the tram "speeding up", adding: "Everyone just literally went flying."

Speaking outside Croydon University Hospital, where he was being treated for fractured or broken ribs, he said people were screaming and there was "blood everywhere", describing the scene as "like something out of a film".

He added: "There was a woman that was on top of me... I don't think she made it at all. She wasn't responsive. There was blood everywhere."

SNAPPA Tram crash

Asked about the driver, he said: "I asked him if he was okay. He said 'yeah'. I said to him, 'what happened?' He said he thinks he blacked out."

The crash is being probed by BTP and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

Croydon tram accident.
Emergency service personnel at the scene (Steve Parsons/PA)

BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith said officers are investigating "a number of factors".

Initial findings of the RAIB show the tram came off the tracks as it was negotiating a "sharp, left-hand curve" with a speed limit of 12mph.

A spokesman said: "Initial indications suggest that the tram was travelling at a significantly higher speed than is permitted."