Road Tunnels Manual

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Staff-related issues

Tasks entrusted to the operating staff are essential  for safety and the overall efficiency of tunnel operation. Moreover, the context is evolving, with operational issues growing in importance and operating systems becoming increasingly complex.

Figure 1: Operating staff in a tunnel control centre (Spain)

The staff in charge of tunnel operation therefore need to satisfy the following requirements:

  • They should be well selected through a recruitment process
  • They should be well trained before taking up their functions
  • They need refresher courses throughout their career
  • They should participate in exercises, possibly organised in cooperation with external services.

During recruitment phases, the qualifications required for the future operators must be defined according to the nature of operational tasks.  Even if the tasks are similar in all countries, the people responsible for executing them do not necessarily belong to the same kind of organisation in each country. Nevertheless, the skills and aptitudes required should be similar.

While designing the staff training (initial or permanent), the following two issues need to be addressed:

  • What kind of training needs to be provided to the operating staff (or, what should be the obligatory training)?
  • What criteria are to be applied by the operations manager for validating the quality of the training and the results obtained?

If there are no national rules on the content of training, the operating body has to adapt its training programme to the specific characteristics and requirements of its tunnels.

The Technical Report 2007R04 "Guide for organizing, recruiting and training road tunnel operating staff" specifies the recruitment and training of personnel in greater detail, chapters 7 "Recruitment of operation staff" and 8 "Training operating staff" .

The operator needs to regularly test procedures and the efficiency of personnel, making sure that staff are familiar with the different equipment installed in the tunnel. Any possible deficiencies in the execution of specific tasks can thus be detected.

In addition to internal exercises, the operator and emergency services need to organise joint rescue exercises with the participation of the traffic police, the operator, medical services and the fire and rescue services. The results of each exercise should be analysed. If lessons drawn from an exercise reveal any shortfalls, the intervention strategies should be reviewed.

For road tunnels, exercises should be regarded as an integral part of the tunnel emergency planning process. In many countries, road tunnel safety regulations specify the time intervals between emergency exercises and sometimes give some indication about the contents of the exercises.

For tunnel operators, organising such exercises represents a considerable task.

The technical report 2012R25EN "Best practice for road tunnel emergency exercises", inspired by a survey of current international experience in this field of expertise, provides a step-by-step guide on how to define the objectives, prepare, carry out and assess an exercise in the most efficient way. It also includes practical information on the resources required, the costs and the results to be achieved.
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