Tube Lines and Metronet invest £1.4m in Emergency Response Unit
The Tube’s dedicated team of safety and rescue experts, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), has a new fleet of 10 vehicles to help it reach incidents faster and restore services faster after problems. The new response vehicles have more carrying space for specialist equipment and are designed to make it easier for the emergency teams to do their work.
The ERU, which gained widespread recognition for its role responding to the bombs on 7 July 2005, is run by Tube Lines, the company rebuilding the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines. Together these carry 40% of passengers on the London Underground, although the ERU operates on all other Underground lines as well. Nearly £6 million is being invested in the ERU between 2003 and 2010 by Tube Lines and Metronet to ensure it has the latest equipment and skills to tackle any situation. This includes a £1.4 million investment in this new, state-of-the-art fleet of vehicles.
The new response vehicles are based on Mercedes Atego chassis cabs, with bodies specially built and fitted out by John Dennis Coachbuilders, which specialises in making fire engines. The engines meet the highest European standards in emissions. John Dennis and the ERU have worked together to design two types of bespoke truck, one containing primarily track equipment and one with the tools and parts needed to work on trains. Many features have been taken from the vehicles used by fire response units to make them better fit for purpose than the lorries currently used by the ERU.
When fully equipped, each vehicle weighs 11 tonnes and carries far more equipment than the old lorries. Having more equipment means teams are better able to fix problems on the Underground quickly, reducing delays for passengers. The new equipment includes:
* A 168kg water pump with the capability of moving a swimming pool’s worth of water in a few seconds and a submersible pump for draining flooded stations
* Remote controlled hydraulic jacks which can be used in tunnels where there is not enough space for a person to use a manual jack
* “Iron man” lifters for moving rail, which greatly improves manual handling procedures, thus improving the health and safety of the response teams
* Spreading tools known as the “jaws of life”, which quickly open doors or clear a way through wreckage
* A GPRS tracker and GPS navigation system
The involvement of ERU operatives in the design was critical to ensure they are as convenient as possible to use. The new vehicles reduce the likelihood of emergency workers injuring themselves when handling the heavy machinery required to fix problems on the Tube, because the way tools are stored is better suited for manual handling. Some of the vehicles also have welfare facilities for the teams, for example space to change into specialist clothing, a hot water boiler and a microwave. Often teams spend many hours at an incident, frequently at night, undertaking hard, physical work but up until now they have been reliant for refreshments on fast food outlets or the goodwill of people nearby.
Darren Hillier, Manager of the Emergency Response Unit, said:
“We tackle any type of incident on the whole Underground so there are vast quantities of tools we might need to use. We never know what might come up so being able to carry more kit will enable us to fix faults faster and get trains on the move again.The ERU is well respected by the other emergency services but the new vehicles will enable us to step up the service we offer still further and complete our work even faster. London will see the difference.”
The vehicles will be based at each of the ERU centres in Acton, Camden, Vauxhall and Tottenham Hale. Team members have undergone additional training to ensure they use the new vehicles safely.