Today was a long and tragic day.
Shortly after 7am, I was alerted - by a tweet from former Croydon Advertiser journalist Gareth Davies - to a report that a tram had "overtuned" near the Sandilands tramstop.
At first sight, this seemed incredible. We've had the odd derailment over the years, but a tram overturning? I was passing very near to Sandilands on the school run so I decided to take a look.
As soon as I got there, it was clear that this was a very serious incident. There were a huge number of emergency services vehicles on the scene. I bumped into a friend who was desperately trying to find news of his brother, who had phoned after the accident to say the tram he was on had crashed and he was bleeding; now he wasn't answering his phone. I spoke to the Police Borough Commander, who informed me in confidence that there had been a number of fatalities and many people were injured.
I have spent the rest of the day trying to get information from Transport for London and Croydon Council to pass on to constituents and visiting the site first with Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and then Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport. I am very grateful to both of them for their support for our borough at this difficult time.
I've also done a number of media interviews. There was something slightly eerie about standing in the middle of the Addiscombe Road/Barclay Road/Radcliffe Road/Clyde Road junction - normally one of the busiest junctions in Croydon - with not a car or tram in sight.
First and foremost, my thoughts this evening are with the families of the victims of this morning's accident. People kissed their partners and children goodbye this morning as they set off for work and at least seven people will not be coming back. That number could rise and others will only return after a long-stay in hospital and with life-changing injuries. If you are one of those families and I can help in any way with liaison with the authorities, please don't hesitate to get in touch either by emailing email@example.com or calling my office on 020 8663 8741.
Second, I want to thank all the staff from the British Transport Police, the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade, the London Ambulance Service, our local hospitals, Transport for London and Croydon Council for the work they did today in very difficult circumstances. Without their professionalism things would have been a lot worse. I'm conscious that in the six years I have been an MP we've had to take tough decisions on public servants' pay and pensions. I hope these amazing people know nevertheless how much all politicians value what they do day in day out. Days like today make you realise we don't say thank you enough.
Third, we need to find out what caused this accident. Our trams have an excellent safety record, but something clearly went badly wrong today. You will have heard reports on the media that the driver has been arrested, but we mustn't speculate - we must give the British Transport Police and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch time to complete their investigations.
And fourth, once they have finished their work at the site we need to get the trams running again as soon as possible. Thousands of my constituents depend on them to get to work or school. The overturned tram needs to be moved and given the constraints of the location that is not going to be easy. A full service is therefore unlikely to resume much before the weekend.
In terms of tomorrow, TfL tell me:
- there will be no tram service between East Croydon and Addington Village/Harrington Road/Elmers End and a limited service on the rest of the network;
- tram tickets will be accepted on alternative TfL and National Rail services;
- the A232 Addiscombe Road will be closed and some buses will be diverted; and
- additional bus services are running on routes 130, 289, 367 and 466.
They have a dedicated page providing alternative travel options - www.tfl.gov.uk/tram-incident.
That's all for tonight. I will keep you updated.