“During the night of Saturday 26/Sunday 27 January 2019, at around four in the morning, the Omnibus 532 train travelling from Franceville to Libreville stopped in the middle of the block section (km 390 + 600) following a fire in the traction unit, with flames spreading rapidly towards passenger carriages. The operating crew was not responding, having lost consciousness due to intoxication from the fumes. We were in the middle of a rainforest in a national park, and passengers needed to be evacuated”.
This emergency scenario was used as a crisis management exercise at SETRAG: the Trans-Gabon railway operating company.
The objective of the exercise was to evaluate SETRAG’s capacity to fully take charge of a crisis situation on the railways, from the alert right up to returning traffic to safety, encompassing aid and rescue, customer support and provision of information to the various Gabonese government services. A further objective was to prepare SETRAG to take part in an exercise with national reach and, thus, to assess how well operations are coordinated with the public authorities.
The final objective was to develop a railway crisis management plan involving all of the relevant partners and the public authorities.
Jacques Colliard and Bernard Penners, managers of UIC’s Safety and Security units, respectively, helped SETRAG to develop the exercise. They also lent a helping hand during the simulation.
The stakeholders involved in the exercise were SETRAG personnel, a group of expert observers from the Gabonese railway transport regulatory authority (ARTF), experts from the Gabonese ministries of the Interior and Transport, the army and national park wardens. The observers monitored the proceedings at various locations, such as signalling stations and the local and central crisis centres.
The information gathered from the exercise has proven valuable, and the findings are currently being processed by the various units involved. The results will be used in keeping with the company’s principle of learning, reinforcing its strengths and highlighting the weaknesses observed.
The conclusions drawn from the exercise will be presented by Jacques Colliard and Bernard Penners, together with SETRAG and the ARTF, at a UIC Africa seminar on crisis management to be held in Libreville during the week of 13 May. Save the date!