Home » Great Western Railway partners with Royal National Lifeboat Institution to celebrate the charity’s 200th anniversary
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Great Western Railway partners with Royal National Lifeboat Institution to celebrate the charity’s 200th anniversary

GREAT Western Railway will play safety messages at its stations near popular holiday destinations and has applied a commemorative RNLI 200 livery to a train as part of a special partnership celebrating the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s 200 years of saving lives at sea.

A special ceremony at London Paddington today saw an RNLI 200 logo unveiled on the side of Intercity Express Train, 802008, which was named after the Penlee lifeboat RNLB Solomon Browne.

Solomon Browne was lost at sea on 19 December 1981 when it launched to rescue the passengers and crew of the vessel Union Star. In all, 16 people died, including eight volunteer lifeboat crew.

Current crew members from the Penlee lifeboat were among the guests at Paddington station.

The RNLI 200 commemorative livery features 172 RNLI locations across the GWR network, stretching from Angle in south-west Wales to Selsey in West Sussex, and from Sennen Cove in Cornwall to Portishead in Bristol.

Following the unveiling, 802008 formed the 1004 service to Penzance. On arrival in the Cornish town, the train was greeted by colleagues and volunteers from the RNLI and GWR, before a cake-cutting ceremony in the first-class lounge.

GWR Customer Services Director Rachel Geliamassi said:

“Much like ourselves, the RNLI has a long and proud history and we wanted to pay our own special thanks to an organisation responsible for saving more than 146,000 lives over the past 200 years.

“The railway celebrates its own 200th anniversary next year and, with the Great Western Railway serving so many fantastic coastal destinations, it is fitting we have been able to form this very special partnership with the RNLI.

“The safety of our customers is always of paramount importance, and we’re pleased to be able to help the RNLI in spreading their safety messages further by reminding people about the dangers of the sea.”

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British naturalist, explorer and TV presenter Steve Backshall has recorded the announcements to be played at more than 50 stations across the GWR network. Steve worked with the RNLI’s Water Safety Team to record the announcements that will be played at regular intervals on the station platforms, catching rail users’ attention as they disembark the train, heading towards the coast.

Steve said:

As a family we take every opportunity to enjoy the water, so I have always had an admiration and respect for the RNLI’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards, and everything they do to keep people safe at the coast.

“Catching people as they get off the train is a perfect opportunity to advise and remind them of how they can stay safe while enjoying our wonderful coastline with their friends and family.

“Simple tips such as; head to a lifeguarded beach, swim between the red and yellow flags, and instructions on how to raise the alarm if they see someone in difficulty, and how to help yourself by using the Float to Live technique.”

Adrian Carey, RNLI Head of Region for the south-west, said:

As a charity the RNLI has been saving lives at sea for 200 years, through its rescue service and sharing water safety messages with the public about how to enjoy being on and around the water.

“Kickstarting a long-term partnership with Great Western Railway with the stunning new livery and water safety announcements is an exciting opportunity for the charity to share our important water safety messages with rail users across the GWR network and has the potential to save lives.

“It’s wonderful to have Steve, who is a long-time ambassador for the RNLI, and his sense of adventure and passion for enjoying the outdoors come through as he delivers the important safety announcements. His instantly recognisable voice will be sure to inspire beach goers and water users to take those extra steps to ensure they enjoy their time at the coast safely.”