Graeme Parker, customer service assistant at London Paddington, usually controls the tannoy announcements from the control room at Brunel’s iconic station but following a fire, which stopped the system working, he had to stand in front of the evacuated crowds with a megaphone to update passengers.
It follows railway workers on the Great Western Mainline as they deal with the biggest modernisation of the line for generations, major incidents which are causing disruption on the railway, huge sporting events as well as the day-to-day challenge of running one of the Britain’s busiest stations.
Graeme stars in episode three as the station is closed during the evening rush hour peak. The fire alarm was activated in the power supply room under the station, causing 2,000 passengers to evacuate.
London Fire Brigade quickly attended the station but damage to electrical equipment meant it was several hours before the station could safely reopen.
The evacuation closed the station for one of the longest periods in recent years and with no way of updating frustrated passengers, Graeme stepped out of the control room and towards the masses to update as many people as he could.
Graeme explained how that evening was no ordinary shift.
Usually I sit in the control room and keep the station moving but the equipment failure meant I had to leave the comfort of the office to update passengers.
Everyone who works at Paddington is passionate about providing the best service for passengers so closing the station during the peak was not ideal. However, I knew that the most frustrating thing as a passenger is not being informed, so it seemed right to grab the microphone and communicate the latest update.
It was an ever changing situation and it didn’t look like we would reopen at all that night but thankfully we did and we managed to get people on their way.
I hope people watch the documentary and get a better understanding of what Network Rail does and the range of challenges we face.
Graeme Parker, customer service assistant at London Paddington, Network Rail
The third episode of Paddington Station 24/7 will be aired on Monday 25 September on Channel 5 at 9pm with each episode shown on subsequent Monday evenings at the same time.