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Safety tests in new Tyne Tunnel

Emergency services test the tunnel’s safety system with a full scale accident mock-up prior to opening later this month.

The 1.5km long vehicle tunnel, built as part of the £260M New Tyne Crossing project, was the site of an emergency exercise designed to thoroughly test the operating and automated emergency response systems before traffic is switched into the tunnel later this month.

“One of the most exciting features in the new tunnel is a state-of-the-art mist system,” the Tyne Tunnels manager Peter Hedley.

“This is the first road tunnel in the UK to boast a fixed fire suppression system, making it the safest in the county. Thankfully emergency incidents are pretty rare at the Tyne Tunnels, but it has been fantastic today to see just what a difference this makes to the way we could respond to emergencies.”

Tyne and Wear Fire Service, Northumbria Police, North East Ambulance Service and the Hazard Area Response Team were all in attendance at Saturday’s event.

The safety features fitted into the new vehicle tunnel by design and build contractor Bouygues Travaux Publics UK include a dedicated, separate pedestrian escape passage, an integrated incident monitoring and alert system, as well as the fixed fire suppression system.

In the case of fire in the tunnel, the fixed fire suppression system would generate a mist sufficient to stop a fire from spreading, enabling people to safely escape tunnel until the fire service arrives to extinguish the flames. The system not only saves lives but also protects the tunnel structure from fire damage, enabling the tunnel to reopen more quickly after an incident.

“We have worked with specialists in the field to install these features, so that north east motorists can enjoy a safer driving experience,” said Bouygues Travaux Publics UK project managing director Nicolas Caille.

“People might assume that the civil engineering works involved in building the new tunnel have been the most challenging aspect of the project, but installing the mechanical and electrical features has been equally demanding thanks to the bespoke nature of the systems.”

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