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Sand drag research boosts tram termini safety

27 Sept 2023

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Working in partnership with academics and colleagues from across the sector, the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board is driving cutting-edge research into ways to limit damage and reduce the risk of injury should a tram fail to stop on reaching the end of the line.

Fortunately, such incidents are extremely rare, but ‘over-runs’ have been reported on networks around the world, and the LRSSB has identified the issue as a potential risk faced by UK tramways.

In response, the organisation responsible for light rail safety in the UK is working in collaboration with the Institute of Railway Research, based at the University of Huddersfield, on a project to assess the effectiveness of utilising sand traps in addition to traditional buffet stops at track termini.

Craig O’Brien, Head of Engineering Safety and Innovation at the LRSSB, commented: “The first phase of the project has involved the IRR collating information from operators on sand trap systems and other alternatives currently in use.

“This has found a wide variation in depth, materials used, and other key specifications, with no clear evidence on which combination would be the most effective in the unlikely event of an overrun.

“A comprehensive draft report has now been produced that lays the foundations for future research, including recommendations for advanced modelling to assess the effectiveness of sand drags under different scenarios.

“There are also proposals for real-world trials involving a test tram to further evaluate systems that have real potential to further enhance light rail safety by mitigating against a low-frequency, high-impact risk.”

Now that the first phase of the research has been completed, the LRSSB plans to canvass feedback from all those who took park, and the wider sector, before deciding on the next steps for the project.

“This will determine whether the LRSBB should make further investment in more detailed studies and where this might add value to the wider light rail sector.”

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