Security and Safety of Rail Transit Tunnels

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, place - europe, mode - rail, planning - safety/accidents, planning - standards, literature review - literature review


transit safety, rail tunnels, security


Transportation Technology Center, Inc., with support from the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, was tasked by the FTA to research areas of transit safety risk, identify existing specifications and guidelines for rail transit tunnel design, construction, maintenance, and rehabilitation, and perform a gap analysis to establish the need for additional standards, guidance, or recommended practices to support and further the safe operation of the United States’ public transportation industry. This paper presents industry needs with a focus on security and safety that were identified by reviewing past tunnel incidents and related literature. The compilation of past tunnel incidents includes available reports published by the National Transportation Safety Board and other U.S. and European agencies. These reports generally involve rare but high-risk events such as fires and flooding, and emphasize public safety. A summary of needs obtained through a literature review emphasizes the need for continually updated specifications and best practices. The industry needs findings include the need for working fire detection, ventilation, and emergency egress along with coordinated emergency response plans that can be utilized by trained personnel.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.