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04.10.07

Jubilee line protected from trackside fire that threatened chaos for millions of passengers

On Saturday 29 September, a fire broke out and gutted an industrial unit that backed on to the Jubilee line at Stratford threatening to cause major disruption to the Jubilee line service this week. A closely co-ordinated team comprising Tube Lines – the company upgrading 40% of the London Underground – Newham Council’s civils inspectors, London Underground and the London Fire Brigade worked round the clock for 24 hours to bring the situation under control, protect the Jubilee line track from being damaged and to demolish the building safely. Against all the odds, the team completed all works in the early hours of Monday morning ensuring a full passenger tube service was operating by 05:30.

A fire in the industrial building on Canning Road off Abbey Road broke out at approximately 19:00 on Saturday 29 September. A partial line suspension was operated by London Underground from North Greenwich to Stratford to enable demolition works to take place safely.

There were concerns that the rear wall of the industrial unit would collapse onto the Jubilee line, which would have damaged part of the line’s cable run. If damaged, a large section of the Jubilee line network would have been out of action for up to a week causing travel chaos for millions of passengers. There were also concerns that if the partial line suspension was in place for any length of time it would compromise Tube Lines’ ability to maintain trains and thereby provide London Underground with a full fleet of trains to operate a timetabled passenger service, as Stratford Market Depot, where maintenance is undertaken, would have been isolated.

Determined to carry out the restoration works safely and swiftly to prevent major disruption to passenger services, the team pulled together to agree on the best course of action. Together, a safe working environment was set up with hourly checks made to review progress and ensure the plan was being executed properly. A nearby plant hire company – Quattro Plant Hire – provided track machines and road railers to allow the building demolition works to take place and the cable run was safely protected and undamaged. All the stops were pulled out with everybody working tirelessly throughout the 24-hour operation. Thanks to the combined efforts of all involved, passenger services were resumed in full for the Monday morning service.

Chris McEntee, Tube Lines Incident Duty Officer said:
“We had a mammoth task ahead of us; the damaged building was just three meters from the Jubilee line track cable run and if it had collapsed many signalling and power cables would have been damaged. It was absolutely imperative that we protected those cables to ensure passengers were not inconvenienced by Monday morning.

“Everyone involved, from London Underground, Newham Council, the Fire Brigade and the plant hire companies as well as our own people, pulled out all the stops and worked as a team. It was thanks to this team approach and the meticulous planning and execution of the plan that the Monday morning tube service was running to timetable.”

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