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Edinburgh tram warning horns ‘do not meet industry guidelines’

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has looked into the death of Carlos Correa Palacio, who was struck and killed last year.

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Rail investigators said the warning horn on trams should be louder (Danny Lawson/PA)

Rail investigators said the warning horn on trams should be louder (Danny Lawson/PA)

Rail investigators said the warning horn on trams should be louder (Danny Lawson/PA)

Edinburgh’s trams should be fitted with louder warning horns, investigators probing the death of a pedestrian have said.

Carlos Correa Palacio, 53, was struck by a tram near the Saughton stop on September 11 last year.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) issued the “urgent” safety advice on Thursday, saying the level of sound of the vehicles’ warning horns did not meet industry guidance.

It advised operator Edinburgh Trams to increase the sound level and in the meantime “consider measures to mitigate risks at locations where audible warnings may be required”.

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Carlos Correa Palacio died after being hit by a tram in Edinburgh on Tuesday (Police Scotland/PA)

Carlos Correa Palacio died after being hit by a tram in Edinburgh on Tuesday (Police Scotland/PA)

Carlos Correa Palacio died after being hit by a tram in Edinburgh on Tuesday (Police Scotland/PA)

Mr Palacio was using a footpath crossing between the Balgreen and Saughton tram stops when he was hit by a vehicle travelling from the city centre towards Edinburgh Airport at around 12.10pm.

The RAIB said the driver saw him and used the brake while sounding repeated warnings using the tram’s bell.

The driver then operated the emergency brake, automatically activating the warning horn, but the tram was too close to be able to stop before hitting the pedestrian.

The tram’s speed at the time of the collision was around 50kph where the maximum line speed was 70kph.

Both the bell and the warning horn are not sufficiently discernible above the level of background noise at this footpath crossing to indicate the approach of a tramRAIB

RAIB officials took a number of measurements and concluded: “Both the bell and the warning horn are not sufficiently discernible above the level of background noise at this footpath crossing to indicate the approach of a tram at a full service braking distance from the crossing at line speed.

“The warning horn produces a lower sound pressure level than the bell and can therefore be regarded as quieter.

“The RAIB are aware that at the time that the trams were procured and commissioned there were no specified numeric requirements for the sound pressure levels for tram audible warning devices.

“However, guidance existed at the time of procurement, and continues to exist, which states that there should be two levels of audible warnings – the lesser level for on-street use and the greater for off-street sections and emergencies.”

PA