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Tunnel fire lesson for Tube safety


Are we learning from the fires at King's Cross, Mont Blanc, Tauern and now Kitzsteinhorn that, if fire breaks out in a relatively old tunnel, a high proportion of the people inside will be killed?

This could lead to a fundamental review of firesafety philosophy in all tunnels, with a shift to stricter control of the people and objects carried in a manner akin to air travel.

At least it might lead to a mandatory requirement for trained personnel to guide passengers out of trains in an emergency. Some trains, such as the Heathrow Express, already have such staff.

This may seem academic in the UK given the small number of tunnels, until one compares the Kitzsteinhorn tunnel and the London Underground network. Both carry passenger trains, which appear to have relatively few potential sources of fire and little combustible material. Both trains are frequently loaded to full capacity.

In fact the Kitzsteinhorn tunnel is arguably safer, in that unlike most Tube tunnels, it had a walkway and also a greater diameter than the standard 3.85m diameter Tube tunnel.

Alun Thomas (M),

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