Monday 25 Sep 2017
Documentary series continues as staff deal with London Paddington station closure after fire in episode three
A Network Rail worker who was left with no option but to communicate with thousands of passengers by hand megaphone following a fire evacuation of London Paddington will feature in the third episode of behind the scenes documentary, Paddington 24/7.
Graeme Parker, customer service assistant at London Paddington, usually controls the tannoy announcements from the control room at Brunel’s iconic station but following a fire, which stopped the system working, he had to stand in front of the evacuated crowds with a megaphone to update passengers.
The eight-part series follows railway workers on the Great Western Mainline as they deal with the biggest modernisation of the line for generations, major incidents which are causing disruption on the railway, huge sporting events as well as the day-to-day challenge of running one of the UK’s busiest stations.
Graeme stars in episode three as the station is closed during the evening rush hour peak owing to a fire alarm activation in the power supply room under the station which forced 2,000 passengers to evacuate as the fire alarms sounded.
London Fire Brigade quickly attended the station but owing to damage to electrical equipment it was several hours before the station could safely reopen.
The evacuation closed the station for one of the longest periods in recent years and with no way of updating frustrated passengers, Graeme stepped out of the control room and towards the masses to update as many people as he could.
Graeme explained how that evening was no ordinary shift. He said: “Usually I sit in the control room and keep the station moving but the equipment failure meant I had to leave the comfort of the office to update passengers.
“Everyone who works at Paddington is passionate about providing the best service for passengers so closing the station during the peak was not ideal. However, I knew that the most frustrating thing as a passenger is not being informed, so it seemed right to grab the microphone and communicate the latest update.
“It was an ever changing situation and it didn’t look like we would reopen at all that night but thankfully we did and we managed to get people on their way.
“I hope people watch the documentary and get a better understanding of what Network Rail does and the range of challenges we face.”
The third episode of Paddington 24/7 will be aired on Monday 25 September on Channel 5 at 9pm with each episode shown on subsequent Monday evenings at the same time.
About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 19 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Every day, more than 4.6 million journeys are made in the UK. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.
We are building a better railway for a better Britain.