Firefighters practise on 56-tonne tram in case of a disaster

The training exercise ' unique in Scotland ' is due to be repeated within months. Picture: AD
The training exercise ' unique in Scotland ' is due to be repeated within months. Picture: AD
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Firefighters are preparing in case of an Edinburgh tram disaster by practising lifting one of the 56-tonne vehicles.

In a training exercise due to be repeated within months, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) used one of the capital’s trams to mimic the aftermath of a crash.

The operation at the Edinburgh Trams depot beside the Gogar roundabout involved specially designed airbags, jacks and blocks.

However, firefighters first had to earth the overhead electric wires that power the trams to ensure rescue work could be carried out safely.

The tram was lifted from the track then carefully lowered back to the ground.

Edinburgh Trams has been working with the fire service on how they would lift a tram since the city centre to Edinburgh Airport line opened five years ago, which has now developed into a training course.

SFRS Deputy Assistant Chief Officer James McNeil said: “The equipment and techniques used by firefighters as part of this exercise is unique in Scotland.

“The crews taking part come away from training with a better understanding of trams and gain vital skills that prepare them for responding to any real-life emergencies, such as people being trapped.

“We are really grateful to Edinburgh Trams for opening up their depot to our front-line personnel in the capital.”

Edinburgh Trams head of safety and projects Colin Kerr said: “It’s important to us that as first responders to an incident, or in their day-to-day work, firefighters are able to either earth the overhead line or lift a tram quickly and safely. It’s been a partnership process between Edinburgh Trams, our maintainers – Siemens and CAF – and the SFRS.

“This has delivered a valuable training package, with all parties leading the way with best practice that can be shared with the light rail industry.

“It will put us in good stead as work starts on the extension of the line to Newhaven.”

SFRS Station Commander William Pollard said: “Collaborating with Edinburgh Trams over the past five years has given us a great opportunity to put our decision-making to the test during a simulated rescue.

“This was a successful exercise and the crew involved demonstrated their technical expertise as they lifted and lowered the tram.

“Being able to work with a genuine tram has been incredibly effective and our learnings help us to protect the public.”