Metro train operators Charlie Richardson and Danielle Glass at the rail rodeo in Boston earlier in June. (COURTESY WMATA/Charles Murphy/MBTA Subway Operations Instructor/Project Development)

Five Metro employees won the “Rail Transit Team Achievement Award” in the 19th annual American Public Transportation Association (APTA) International Rail Rodeo. Harris supervises two of the five employees — Charlie Richardson and Danielle Glass — who work as train operators for Metro. The two placed second in the competition. The other winning Metro team consisted of Roland Lamar, Jacob Stout, and Adrian Tase, who all work as rail maintenance workers. They came in third place in the competition. Twelve systems competed for the award, APTA officials said.

“We thought we’d do ok, but we didn’t think we’d do this well,” Lamar said. “We’re all first-timers and we were competing against teams that had gone four or five times.”

The key to their success? “Stay focused and teamwork,” Stout said.

The rail transit honor is given to the agency whose team has the highest combined score for rail operators and maintainers.

The operators are judged on their professional skills, including knowledge of safety regulations, train equipment, right-of-way rules and procedures, and how they operate the train, according to APTA. The maintainers are evaluated on their ability to “troubleshoot maintenance problems,” APTA officials said.

“I’m proud because it is the first time we’ve gone to the international competition and won,” Harris said, as he stood on the sidelines in the Metro board room on June 23 and watched the winners have their photographs taken with Metro General Manager Richard Sarles.

“It boosts confidence and morale,” Harris said. “And their win shows others, ‘We did this.’ We get a lot of bad press and this is something good.”

Last year, Metro did not send a team to the competition in Vancouver because of budget constraints, he said. This year is the first time in more than a decade that a team from the D.C. area has done so well, he added.

Virginia Miller, a spokeswoman for APTA, said it was impressive that Metro’s teams won the top award this year. “This competition is the ‘Olympics’ for rail operators in North America and this year, WMATA rail operators took the gold,” she said in an e-mail.

Follow me on twitter @postmetrogirl .