Curtain fixture collapses as minister opens rail safety centre in Huddersfield

  • Rail minister Huw Merriman joked: 'Nobody was hurt in the unveiling of that plaque'

The rail minister remarked "you couldn't make it up" after a curtain pole collapsed as he opened a new safety centre.

The Trust rail safety centre has been launched in Huddersfield as part of upgrades to the Transpennine route, to give rail workers experience of real-life scenarios.

It will give employees the chance to test themselves in roleplays involving actors staging emergency situations, experience a rumbling floor to recognise incoming trains from a distance and take part in other exercises.

Rail minister Huw Merriman, who was conducting the official opening, said: "This will keep them safe and their colleagues safe around them."

But he was then on the wrong end of an unplanned accident as he unveiled the plaque to mark the opening.

As Mr Merriman pulled the cord to draw back curtains covering a silver plate, the fixture fell off the wall, forcing him to catch the pole before it hit the floor.

The moment the curtain pole collapsed. Credit: ITV News

He said, "you couldn't make this up" before joking: "Just to say nobody was hurt in the unveiling of that plaque and on a health and safety basis lessons to be learned."

He then made a comparison to the occasion when a backdrop being used during a speech by former Prime Minister Theresa May partially collapsed as she spoke at the Tory Party Conference in 2017.

The Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a multi-billion-pound programme of railway improvements being carried out by Network Rail on the line between Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Critics say it is a second class substitute for a new high speed line.

Speaking about the opening of the new centre, Neil Holm, managing director of Transpennine Route Upgrade, said: "We want to ensure that everybody gets home safe every day. As we work to bring cleaner, faster and better journeys between Manchester, Huddersfield, Leeds and York, the safety of our teams has never been more important.

"It’s important that colleagues from planning, design, delivery and all of our functions understand how the decisions we all make are crucial when it comes to safety. Taking an immersive approach allows workers to absorb and remember their training more clearly and for longer."

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