London Underground and TfL

01.05.06

Tube Lines training fire fighters on Underground

London Underground’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU), the team of dedicated specialists that deals with all significant problems on the Underground network, are training London’s fire fighters in Tube safety and rescue techniques.

The ERU deals with problems such as derailments, broken rails, people under trains, immobilised trains, water on the track and issues requiring emergency speed restrictions. It played an active role after the bombings of 7 July. Its role is to keep the Tube running safely and reliably.

Run by Tube Lines, the company responsible for rebuilding the Tube, along with Metronet, the ERU operates on all Underground lines. Together, Tube Lines and Metronet are investing almost £6 million in the ERU over the first 7 ½ years of their contracts with London Underground to ensure it has the latest skills and equipment to tackle any situation. This includes a £1.4 million investment in a new state of the art fleet of vehicles. A crucial part of the investment is training; every emergency response team member receives three days of training every five weeks – more if necessary.

A programme is underway which will see the ERU train then Fire Rescue Units, the specialist parts of the London Fire Brigade which attend significant emergencies, including on the Underground. Both experienced crew members and new fire fighters receive the training.

The ERU teachers Fire Rescue Units how to work safely and effectively on the London Underground, covering track layout, train structure and common terminology used on the Underground. It also teaches how to switch off the 630 volt traction current which powers the trains.

After this theoretical briefing, the attendees are tested on the identification of track components and learn how competent trained staff use short circuiting devices, which are currently used to ensure that the traction current cannot be accidentally recharged.

Using the special facilities at the ERU’s training centre, the fire fighters learn how to work closely with colleagues to safely lift a train carriage using ‘jacking and packing’ techniques. Once this has been mastered, boards are positioned around the practice carriage to simulate the cramped conditions of tunnels; on the Underground there is often just 9 inches between the carriage and the tunnel walls.

In addition to Fire Rescue Units, the ERU trains its own staff and other relevant Tube Lines employees, London Underground staff, other parts of the London Fire Brigade, the British Transport Police, ambulance teams and other rail companies.

The feedback of fire fighters attending the course is positive. Darren Leonard, rescue skills trainer for the London Fire Brigade, praised the ERU, “Through the Emergency Response Unit, Tube Lines has undoubted expertise in some of the most dangerous yet critical work on the Underground.”

Tube Lines’ Rapid Response Manager of the ERU, Martyn Sculpher, said, “We see ourselves as London’s fourth emergency service and these training courses reinforce that image.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Michael Smith   14/04/2017 at 10:25

Hi can you please tell me if there any vacancies or there will be any int the future in the ERU thanks

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