Emergency services test response to tunnel incident ahead of Friday opening
Emergency services carried out a live exercise on Wednesday to test their response to an accident in the airport tunnel, which is due to open on Friday.
Firefighters, police, ambulance crews and tunnel operators trialled an emergency plan that has been in development “for a number of years”, No.6 Convent Place said.
“Today’s LIVEX followed a number of table-top exercises, the first of which were conducted in June 2022, that have tested the response plans to a variety of emergency scenarios within the vehicular tunnel and pedestrian subway,” it added.
The tunnel is set to open at one minute past midnight on Thursday into Friday morning.
While pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders will still be able to cross the runway, all vehicular traffic going to and from Spain – and to the airport, Eroski, Four Corners and Western Beach - will be routed through the tunnel.
Safety in the tunnel is overseen by operators in a control room who have all completed a four-week training programme from specialist training company in the UK.
“The rigorous, hands-on programme is aligned with the core principles of the UK Road Tunnel Safety Regulations and EU road tunnel safety directives,” No.6 Convent Place said.
“Operators have been trained in critical tunnel management activities, such as traffic and incident management, dynamic risk assessment, tunnel-related life safety engineering systems, and Joint Emergency Service Interoperability Programme (JESIP) major incident management principles.”
“As part of the training syllabus, operators have undertaken mandatory practical and theory assessments and taken part in joint exercises with emergency services to prove they can operate safely and are competent in the foundation principles of tunnel operations.”
BUSES AND TAXIS
The Gibraltar Government has confirmed that buses and taxis will also be routed via the airport tunnel once it opens on Friday.
The Government had previously said that at times of border delays, there would be two lanes to ensure traffic heading to the airport, Eroski, Western Beach and Four Corners could continue to flow.
“Once the Tunnel opens as from Friday 31st onwards, the existing bus routes (5 & 10) will continue to operate from the existing bus stop terminal on Winston Churchill Avenue by Four Corners,” a spokesperson for No.6 Convent Place said.
“From here it would depart the teardrop roundabout opposite Eroski and head towards the tunnel, servicing the bus stop by the Gibraltar Airport Terminal on route to the City Centre.”
“With regards to the taxis, there is no change to how the service should operate.”
“The existing taxi stand on Winston Churchill Avenue, just after the HM Customs and Immigration Control, will remain at this location, [though] shifted southwards to aid vehicular fluidity.”
“Like the buses, they will then travel southbound towards the teardrop roundabout and turn towards the tunnel/ city centre.”
“The taxi stand at the Gibraltar International Airport remains and is to be serviced as normal.”