Ambulance crews and firefighters will now be able to reach emergency situations in the Severn Tunnel much faster as a new, dedicated road-to-rail vehicle has been developed and funded by Network Rail.
The multi-agency vehicle was handed over to the emergency services yesterday (12 Nov) and will now be housed at Maindee fire station, Newport.
The 7.25 tonne Mitsubishi Canter can alter from road to rail, helping emergency services reach any incidents on the railway much faster and potentially helping to save lives.
Network Rail has been working on the design with South Wales Fire and Rescue Services, GOS Tool and Engineering, Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and Southern Western Ambulance Service to ensure the vehicle provides the fastest response times possible while carrying life-saving equipment.
Network Rail worked collaboratively with GOS Tool & Engineering, a local supplier, based in Blaenavon, to develop and deliver this bespoke product that meets the needs of the emergency services.
Before the vehicle is available for use there will be a training and transition period for crews to familiarise themselves with the new vehicle.
Robyn MacNamara, Network Rail’s Project Manager said: “The safety of our passengers is our priority and these vehicles will allow for a faster and more effective multi-agency emergency response.
“The Severn Tunnel is around four-and-a-half miles long, so when an emergency incident happens, quick access for emergency services is vital. That is why we have developed this bespoke vehicle which has dedicated provisions for both firefighters and ambulance crews onboard.
“We would like to thank our emergency services partners and our supplier, GOS Tool & Engineering, for their help in developing our idea, bringing this replacement incident response vehicle to life.
“We are also donating another of these vehicles to Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, later this month, which will mean emergency services, in both Wales and England, will be better equipped to deal with any potential emergencies inside the Severn Tunnel.”
Maindee Station Commander, Gareth Evans, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we are welcoming this fantastic vehicle into our response fleet. It’s clear the benefits it'll bring including quicker response times, multi-agency response as well as being far more flexible and agile than our existing vehicle road appliances.
“With the vehicle being fully functional on the rail lines it will ensure our crews are able to respond effectively in hard to reach areas along rail tracks providing invaluable immediate intervention to help saves lives and prevent the escalation of incidents.”
Clare Langshaw, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s ambulance Operations Manager for resilience and specialist operations, who was involved in the design of the vehicle, said: “This vehicle has been in development for some time with our partners locally and nationally to better enable our response to challenging incidents on the rail network including the Severn Tunnel.
“It’s a unique design developed for the needs of our respective services when dealing with these incidents, which are logistically very challenging for our crews. This vehicle will make it quicker and easier to reach patients and deliver treatment which will hopefully save lives.
“It will also improve our multi-agency response, and we’re thrilled to be sharing the vehicle with our fire and rescue service colleagues, with whom we already work closely together.”
Images: Network Rail