Firefighters and ambulance crews will now be able to reach emergencies in the Severn Tunnel much faster as they now have a dedicated road-to-rail vehicle thanks to Network Rail.
Network Rail developed and funded the multi-agency vehicle before officially handing it over to the emergency services on 12 November and it will now be housed at Maindee Fire and Rescue Station, Newport.
The 7.25 tonne Mitsubishi Canter can switch 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 Service, GOS Tool and Engineering, Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Welsh Ambulance Service Trust and South Western Ambulance Service to ensure the vehicle provides the quickest response times possible while carrying their life-saving equipment.
Network Rail worked very closely with GOS Tool and 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 operational there will be a training and transition period for crews to familiarise themselves with the new vehicle.
Maindee Station Commander from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, 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 which include quicker response times, multi-agency response as well as being far more flexible and agile than our existing assets..
“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.”
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 over four 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 on-board.
“We would like to thank our emergency services partners and our supplier, GOS Tool and 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.”
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.”