Major backflip on plans for emergency exits in rail tunnels

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Fire Rescue NSW underlined the scope of the dispute, saying in correspondence last year that it “disagrees with Sydney Metro that it is acceptable to create an underground environment where emergency services cannot intervene in the event of an emergency, however unlikely too”.

However, NSW Assistant Commissioner of Fire and Rescue, Trent Curtin, said it had reached agreement on Wednesday with Sydney Metro to implement Australia’s standard of 240 meters for cross-pass distances.

“FRNSW will continue to work with Sydney Metro to ensure safety design principles in Australian standards are met,” he said.

A Sydney Metro spokeswoman said both agencies had agreed to cross a distance of about 240 metres, except in areas where such a distance was not possible due to ground conditions or water pressure.

“Continued cooperation between the two agencies has led to a result that ensures the safety of emergency services personnel, commuters, railway workers and construction workers,” she said.

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The Secretary of State for the Fire Service, Leighton Drury, welcomed the turnaround by Sydney Metro, saying tunnel crossings every 240 meters would now make them more suitable for emergency responders in the event of an incident. “This is a major victory for emergency services and the traveling public,” he said.

The union has been pressuring the government for weeks to force Sydney Metro to build emergency exits 800 feet away from the new rail lines.

A risk assessment by Sydney Metro two years ago calculated that an additional 44 cross-passes would need to be built for Metro West if the gaps are 240 metres, and a further 23 for the new airport line. Each crossing was valued at about $1.5 million at the time.

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