READING RAILWAY UPGRADE GIVES FIREFIGHTERS SPACE TO TRAIN: Firefighters carry out training before vacant building is demolished

Thursday 22 Oct 2009


Region & Route:
Wales & Western: Western
| Wales & Western

Reading firefighters got the chance to hone their skills this week as Network Rail gave them a vacant building to use for training purposes.

As part of its plans to modify railway tracks to the west of Reading and build new platforms at the station, Network Rail will demolish a vacant industrial building on Cardiff Road to make way for an access road. Before the building is pulled down, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service has been given the keys so they can use it for a series of training exercises.

Nick Watts, Network Rail project manager, said: “We’re making a huge investment in the railway at Reading, and it’s great to have the opportunity to help out the Fire and Rescue Service along the way. Our plans for Reading are good news for passengers, who will see more regular and reliable train services.”

Jess James, Caversham Road fire station commander said, “Using buildings such as this allows us to deliver enhanced training in firefighting and search and rescue techniques. This real life environment allows us to train with a variety of specialist equipment as part of our ongoing operational training programme and we’re grateful to Network Rail for allowing us to make use of this building before it is demolished.”

Network Rail’s plans will untangle the complex railway lines at Reading, allowing trains to run more frequently and reducing delays. Reading station will also be improved, gaining five new platforms with step-free access, a new pedestrian bridge between platforms and a new northern entrance.

Over the next two weeks Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service firefighters will carry out a number of exercises at the vacant property on Cardiff Road, allowing them to use specialist breathing equipment and simulate real firefighting and rescue situations.

Notes to editors

1.       The attached images show Nick Watts of Network Rail handing over the keys for the building to Phil Clarke, watch manager, and his crew from Caversham Road fire station’s white watch

2.       Demand on the railway at Reading is expected to double over the next 20 years and the network requires a major upgrade to accommodate this growth. Network Rail’s plans include new track, a new signalling centre and new platforms at Reading station, all of which will enable both passenger and freight trains to run more frequently and reliably.

3.       Detailed plans for the Reading upgrade are being prepared, and local residents and businesses will get the chance to have their say on these proposals in a public consultation next year.

4. For questions relating to the training exercise, please contact Ellie Gray, Press and Media Relations, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service on 01189322214 /

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. 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.

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