Tram tests teach how to to remove ‘dead body’

A multi-purpose road/rail vehicle named a Unimog which is fitted with a powerful winch and crane is available but will only be used as a last resort as it would mean stopping traffic. Picture: Greg Macvean
A multi-purpose road/rail vehicle named a Unimog which is fitted with a powerful winch and crane is available but will only be used as a last resort as it would mean stopping traffic. Picture: Greg Macvean
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FIREFIGHTERS and tram drivers have undergone specialist training – to teach them how to remove a dead body from beneath a tram.

The grisly scenario in the event of someone being run over by a tram is one of 12 “worst case scenarios” that drivers and those involved with the project have undertaken ahead of the project going live next month.

Labelled Operation Lima, the exercise took place last month and involved a specialist fire unit using a hydraulic crane to lift a tram off a life-sized dummy.

Other exercises that have been undertaken include evacuating a tram above the viaduct at Murrayfield, known as Exercise Quito, and a similar evacuation procedure in the underpass beneath the A8 at Gogar labelled Havana.

The exotic titles follow a similar vein as that set by Exercise Salvador in March which saw more than 1000 volunteers test the tram stop at Murrayfield.

It is understood that trams safety manager Michael Powell chose the names from a list of Latin American cities he had compiled, with one used for each tram trial.

From next Monday each tram driver under training will practise towing a tram on-street in the event of a breakdown or an accident.

Sidings at Haymarket will be the destination for any clapped-out tram blocking the line in the city centre.

This last element of a comprehensive programme of pre-service tram testing and driver training will take place during nighttime hours from 11pm to 4am and run until May 7.

The need for emergency training for tram drivers and rescue services was reaffirmed last week when a female pedestrian was killed in a crash between a car and a Luas tram in Dublin – 35-year-old Yao Webster was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is understood a BMW car and a Luas tram collided causing the car to spin out of control and strike the woman.

Back in February the Evening News revealed that trams will take more than twice as long to stop in an emergency than the region’s buses.

It was confirmed that it takes a tram 91ft to stop on a street section of road doing 20mph, compared with 39ft for a bus.

One driver, who asked not to be named, said the discrepancy could spell the difference between life and death.

He said: “When the differences in stopping distances were pointed out nobody could believe it. The instructor said there was a near 130 per cent difference in braking distance.”

Each tram comes equipped with a range of safety features such as headlights, a distinctive bell and emergency brakes. When deployed, a tram’s emergency brakes can produce a noticeable burning smell as trams use brake sand which causes dust to collect under the chassis and burn upon braking.

With a view to better informing the public about the dangers posed by the city’s newest transport addition and how best to interact with it, the council has spent £10,000 on a series of public information films.

Tom Norris, Edinburgh Trams director and general manager, said: “The vital pre-launch period has enabled experienced transport operations professionals at Edinburgh Trams to work with emergency planning experts and the emergency services to test out a range of scenarios before trams begin passenger services. Around a dozen such exercises have been carried out.

“As well as the crowd evacuation exercise at Murrayfield, live emergency exercises have included evacuating a tram at a viaduct and the evacuation of a tram in the A8 underpass. Tabletop exercises involving the emergency services and other key partners have also covered such scenarios as traffic signal failure or obstructions on the running line.”

Tram bosses have revealed that in the event of any vehicle breakdown or collision a second tram will tow it to sidings or back to the Gogar depot.

A multi-purpose road/rail vehicle named a Unimog which is fitted with a powerful winch and crane is also available for use but this will be used as a last resort as it would lead to street traffic being blocked and stopped to allow it move into position.

Construction at a never-before-seen speed

A TIME-lapse video of city centre tram tracks being laid to the Benny Hill Show theme tune is proving a hit online.

York Place resident Greg Milne shot the video from his window and set it to the famous Yackety Sax tune which conjures images of farce and a Keystone Cops approach.

The tongue-in-cheek video entitled Edinburgh Tram Timelapse, which has been viewed nearly 600 times on YouTube, was shot from a single vantage point over a year from March 2013 to March 2014 and shows the street from early construction to completion. One viewer said: “It’s a shame they didn’t go at the speed in the video in real life.”

This isn’t the first tram-inspired spoof. Last October, eccentric musical comedy duo John Callaghan and Ms Hynotique created a parody song in the style of Kraftwerk about the much-maligned project.

The song contains lyrics such as “And it’s fun, fun, fun / On the Edinburgh tram, tram, tram / Let’s go from Shandwick Place, it’s ace / to Gogarburn, it’s fun”.