Hazard Access to railway infrastructure
Knowledge and understanding
|Access to railway infrastructure||
Understand all associated hazard knowledge
Railway access can be difficult because of tunnels, embankments, viaducts, buildings and security fences. Incidents on the railway can occur in urban and rural environments, on lengthy sections of track, within tunnels, on elevated sections of track, and within multi-use stations involving the built environment.
A significant feature of fire and rescue service operations at railway incidents is access, egress and evacuation of the public. Incident commanders should gather sufficient information to allow an incident's location to be identified, along with an appropriate access point to the infrastructure.
Access to rail infrastructure may be via an embankment or steep slope. Rail infrastructure embankments can be covered by falling leaves, scrub and brambles often thrive, and waste from fly tipping or from the railway, such as discarded rails or clips, can accumulate. Firefighter access may prove difficult due to the amount of scrub present; this is affected seasonally and should be considered when pre-planning. Inclement weather can cause access conditions to deteriorate rapidly. Consideration should be given to ensuring access/egress routes are established and maintained with weather conditions in mind.
Railway incidents are often linear by nature, with limited access points. This can have a significant effect on the provision of equipment and personnel to the scene of operations. Incident commanders should carefully consider the effects of the geography of any incident on logistics, supply chains and crew welfare.
The ability of fire and rescue service personnel to intervene effectively depends on the severity of the incident, the available systems and facilities, intervention strategies, the availability of resources and the limitation of fire and rescue service equipment.
Railway incidents are often spread over large areas with command points remote from operations. Incident commanders should therefore consider the early establishment of effective communications between the key points of the incident management structure.
Incidents occurring at these locations may present additional hazards associated with:
- Delay in reconnaissance to identify the location and type of incident, and subsequent difficulties in estimating resource requirements
- Delay in getting resources to the scene
- Restricted access
- Limited water run-off facilities
- Limited places of safety or refuge
- Ineffective radio communications
Adjacent roads, buildings, main rail junctions, level crossings and tunnels can help to identify the location of an incident. Location indicators include bridge identification plates, markers on overhead line equipment (OLE) supports, signals and trackside marker posts.