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
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain's railway - the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.