Network Rail wants to turn two retail units into a ‘real life’ disaster training centre for staff working on the massive multi-billion TransPennine rail electrification scheme.
The rail company has applied to Kirklees Council to turn units 11 and 12 at the Ringway Centre in Beck Road, Huddersfield, into what they call a ‘Behavioural Induction Facility.’
The plan is to combine the two units and use the building to train workers in how to deal with major incidents.
Actors will be brought in to re-create scenarios such as a hospital ward or police interviews with the aim of promoting health and safety among staff.
Network Rail is planning a major upgrade of the rail line between Manchester Victoria and Dewsbury.
As part of the scheme the line between Huddersfield and Dewsbury will be widened from two tracks to four and bridges will have to be demolished and rebuilt.
Huddersfield Railway Station will be completely re-modelled inside and will have a futuristic new look.
The Huddersfield to Dewsbury work will cost £1.5 billion alone and a public inquiry into the scheme concluded in December and a decision is still awaited.
Kirklees Council has warned of years of disruption on road and rail in what is probably the biggest construction of public infrastructure since the Second World War.
A document submitted with the planning application seeks a five-year temporary change of use for the two commercial units to be turned into a “training hub.”
It says: “The aim of the training to be provided via this new Behavioural Induction Facility is to foster change in all staff engaged on the TransPennine Route Upgrade (TRU) programme and support continuous improvements to safety.
“As part of the TRU programme, it is crucial that the principles of health and wellbeing and developing a safety culture are embedded within all staff and contractors working on the scheme.
“The facility will create an environment that is tailored to provide a fully immersive and experiential training. This will enable people to learn, practice and develop their safe working skills in a stimulating environment, bridging the gap between the theory of the learning model and the reality of life experience in the workplace.
“This form of training will simulate the cause and consequences of accidents at work. It is delivered by actors and will recreate environments such as police interview scenarios and a hospital ward.
“This type of ‘real life’ training has been used elsewhere within the industry, for example the Elite training facility for HS2.”
The centre would operate Monday-Friday 8am-6pm and house 15 staff and 30 delegates, subject to Covid restrictions at the time.
The two units are currently vacant and Network Rail says they are ideal, being just 10 minutes’ walk from Huddersfield Station and being large enough to create a “theatre-style set.”
There would be no changes to the outside of the units.
Public consultation on the planning application runs until February 22.