New 999 cover promises fewer delays for Newham commuters

Newham’s commuters using London’s underground, DLR and overground services should see fewer delays on trains with the launch of a year-long trial using emergency vehicles using blue lights.

The trial, whch began on Monday (Feb 13, means that Transport for London’s specialist Emergency Response Unit vehicles will be able to cut through the capital’s traffic more quickly with the same ‘Blue Light’ conditions used by police, ambulance and fire services.

The unit is operated by Tube Lines on behalf of TfL and consists of over 100 highly skilled staff which will increase to over 130 by the start of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Under blue lights the unit will respond to incidents where public safety is at risk such as obstructions blocking the track, broken down trains, ‘person under a train’ incidents and other emergency response and recovery situations.

The unit’s work, which will have an impact on services running through Newham, also involves responding to failures of signalling and broken down lifts.

The trial involves a new fleet of three response vehicles with new British Transport Police livery driven by a BTP officer under blue light conditions when appropriate. The vehicles will also serve the London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, and London Tramlink networks. It aims to halve the time taken to respond to incidents, and to reduce disruption and delays to passengers.

Alan Pacey, Assistant Chief Constable for the British Transport, said: “Passenger safety will be improved by using ‘blue lights’ to get engineers and equipment to the scene of incidents as quickly as possible.

“Stuck trains will be freed from tunnels more quickly, enhancing passenger safety. By getting the line moving sooner there will also be fewer crowd safety issues in and around stations.”

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Jon Lamonte, the Director in TfL responsible for the team, said: “Our specialist unit could be described as London’s unknown emergency service – responding to incidents day and night across the Capital. These new arrangements will enable us to carry out our work more quickly and more effectively, which will in turn benefit the millions of passengers who use the network each day.”