New warning signs are to be installed on all Luas trams to warn passengers of the danger of closing doors following a series of “trap-and-drag” incidents over the past two years.
A report reveals that a male passenger escaped injury after being dragged along the platform of the Luas stop at Heuston last year by a tram after his hand became trapped in a door.
The report by the Department of Transport’s Railway Accident Investigation Until found the obstacle detection system on the doors of the Luas did not detect the presence of the man’s hand.
The mechanism, used in rail and tram systems around the world, does not operate for the final 10 millimetres of the door closing sequence in order to prevent doors reopening when they touch each other.
The incident took place at 2.22pm on Mar 26, 2019 as the man attempted to board the rear door of the last carriage on a Luas tram travelling towards the city centre.
The tram departed the stop 19 seconds after the door closed with the man’s hand still trapped in the door.
Two Luas security staff came to the passenger’s assistance with one of them alerting the tram driver by radio. A jogger passing by witnessed the incident and ran to the front of the tram to warn the driver.
The passenger walked along the platform with his hand trapped in the door for five seconds before the security staff assisted in freeing him. The tram came to a stop four seconds later.
While preparing its report, the RAIU said it became aware of a similar incident on Jan 22, 2020 when a woman pushing a buggy got her hand trapped in the tram doors at the Jervis stop and was dragged along beside the tram. Although her hand only became free as she began to fall onto the platform, she was uninjured.
The RAIU noted that Transdev, the Luas operator, had issued three notices to tram drivers about door entrapment incidents in 2018 following a series of similar incidents in Ireland and Britain including a passenger’s hand being trapped in the doors of a tram at Saggart on Aug 22, 2018.
A child in a buggy travelling on a Luas had its hand trapped in the door between stops at Kylemore and Red Cow on Sept 18, 2018.
The RAIU report said the immediate cause of the incident at Heuston was the passenger trying to board the tram as the doors were closing, it said a contributory factor was the failure of the tram driver to conduct an adequate visual check using rear view monitors and mirrors during and after the door closing sequence.
The RAIU said other contributory factors were the absence of labels warning passengers of the risk of trying to board or exit a tram while the doors were closing and the failure of a security guard to following the protocol in emergency situations by beginning a radio call by saying “This is an emergency call” twice.
Railway safety inspectors said an underlying cause was what appeared to be an over-reliance by Luas drivers on a console for confirmation of the doors being closed and locked.
“A thorough final visual door check, using CCTV and mirrors, after obtaining doors closed and locked indications and before moving the tram to confirm that nothing is trapped in the doors is essential,” the RAIU said.
The report made a total of 10 safety recommendations, including one to Transdev to require drivers to conduct a thorough visual check before moving the tram to ensure nothing is trapped in the doors.
The RAIU also recommended that Transport Infrastructure Ireland should conduct a risk-based review on whether CCTV platform monitors should be installed at high-use tram stops.
Since the incident, Transdev said it has designed warning labels to alert passengers about the danger of closing doors which were with TII for approval, while it is also due to install new coloured rear-view cameras and monitors on trams.