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D.C.-area transit training tunnel obtains 'innovation' award


Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recently received the 2004 American Public Transportation Association Management Innovation Award for its emergency response training tunnel in Landover, Md.

The country’s only 24/7 transit training facility, the tunnel is used by local, regional and federal fire, rescue, law enforcement and emergency medical teams to practice responding to disasters such as smoke, fire, collisions and incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

Since the facility opened in May 2002, more than 2,600 public safety and military personnel from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have received training, as well as officials from various federal and state agencies.

The 260-foot-long, 30-foot-wide tunnel holds two 75-foot rapid transit cars and is a replica of an actual Metrorail tunnel with a simulated third rail, safety walk, track, switches, communications, power cables and tunnel lighting. Exercises can be augmented with theatrical smoke, fire and heat. A command and control room is located adjacent to the tunnel, where officials can monitor all activities on closed-circuit televisions.

Prior to the tunnel’s construction, training and exercises were conducted during non-revenue hours in the middle of the night or in rail storage yards.

WMATA currently is working with the Federal Transit Administration to turn the facility into a national emergency response training center, which could simulate light rail, Amtrak and freight cars.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/19/2004