The Burnley Tunnel incident
On Friday 23 March 2007 there was a multi-vehicle accident and subsequent fire in CityLink's Burnley Tunnel. Three people died as a result of the incident.
At least three trucks and four cars were involved in the incident. Around 240 people were registered and evacuated from the tunnel, leaving their cars behind.
CityLink control room operators triggered the fire deluge and smoke extraction systems in the tunnel. They also activated the public address and radio broadcast system to order the evacuation of motorists.
Our co-ordinated response with the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Victoria Police ensured the safe evacuation and care of motorists.
Transurban employees were deployed to the Southbank end of the tunnel to help distribute food and water and help motorists register their vehicles.
Transurban's Emergency Strategy Team met to manage the 'off-road' response to the incident in line with the Transurban Emergency Management Plan.
The tunnel was re-opened four days after the incident occurred. Throughout that period, we worked to keep stakeholders informed, and liaised with VicRoads, the Victorian Government's road authority, to provide alternative travel options to keep Melbourne moving.
The Victorian State Government called for a report on the incident from Victoria Police and VicRoads. Transurban has also evaluated its emergency response.
The major collision investigation unit of the Victoria Police is investigating the incident while the State Coroner is holding an inquest into the three deaths and the fire.
New safety measures
On advice from Victoria Police and VicRoads and in liaison with Transurban, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks announced a package of measures intended to enhance safety in tunnels in Victoria. The State Government and Transurban are working together to evaluate these measures and to implement items that would result in a net increase to safety on our roads.
Preparing for emergencies
CityLink holds training activities and exercises to manage emergencies.
In January 2004, CityLink staged a field exercise based on the scenario of a fire and consequent evacuation of more than 100 people from the Burnley Tunnel.
In 2006, we reviewed and refined our Emergency Management Plan, and trained key personnel in desktop exercises.
In January 2007 we held a field exercise involving police, the fire brigade, ambulance services, CityLink incident response crews and Transurban's Emergency Strategy Team. This exercise was escalated to a call-out of the Emergency Strategy Team.