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Posts Tagged ‘security

Railway security in Europe, part three

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The whole debate about strengthening surveillance on trains is going nowhere – unless it is decided to post armed guards or police officers on those trains, like in the United States, which could be a sort of deterrent (wrote former French intelligence agent Claude Moniquet).

[Viewpoint: New anti-terror approach needed after France train attack, Claude Moniquet, BBC, 23 Aug 2015]

[…] Trains go from point A to point B with some (or lots) of stations in between. Can you imagine each station having scanners and checkpoints? Can you imagine turning up at train stations one or two hours before departure, like at airports? Of course not. And even if it did happen, the threat could switch to other targets: buses, tramways, underground, stores, theatres, restaurants, bars, churches and sporting events. Could we equip all these places with scanners and checkpoints? The answer is obvious.

Actually, the whole debate about strengthening surveillance on trains may not be going too far, even if armed guards were posted on trains.

Suppose a plain clothes ‘rail marshal’ were assigned to each Thalys service. What would be the probability of that marshal being in the right place on the train to make an effective intervention in the event of a terrorist incident?

Written by beleben

August 27, 2015 at 10:32 am

Posted in Politics, Railways

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Bomb proofing train carriages

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Madrid Metro vehicle destroyed in SecureMetro test

Train carriages could be bomb-proofed to prevent a repeat of the carnage left by the London Underground terrorist attacks, the Daily Telegraph reported on January 22. A Madrid metrocar was blown up in the open air as part of the European SecureMetro research programme aiming to examine blast-protection measures such as tethered components, plastic coated windows, and energy-absorbing materials.

British engineers have developed blast-resilient rolling stock after drawing on lessons learned from the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings.

They hope to offer advice to the rail industry on how to protect passengers.

The EU-funded SecureMetro project was launched three years ago to test designs for overground and Tube carriages that minimise death and injury in the event of a bomb attack.

Experts focused on two main areas – containing the blast impact and reducing levels of debris that kill and maim and impede emergency services.

The problem is that most so-called ‘bomb proofing’ techniques are not likely to be cost-effective. A much more productive approach would be to focus on stopping would-be bombers getting onto the system, or better still, getting into the country.

Even in new-build rapid transit stock, tethering roof panels and suchlike is likely to prove a maintenance nightmare and increase costs over the life cycle. And design trends such as full-width gangways between rapid transit cars would seem to conflict with SecureMetro’s containment paradigm.

Written by beleben

February 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Centro station staffing muddle

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Councillors from the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority have written to local train operator London Midland about proposed cuts in staffing at some stations. The changes would leave more stations without a staff presence, at more times. On 2 March 2011, the Birmingham Mail reported

Bosses at London Midland plan to shut five ticket offices in the city and three more elsewhere in the West Midlands.

In Birmingham, booths at Witton, Small Heath, Jewellery Quarter, Adderley Park and Duddeston stations are set to be axed for good.

Others threatened in the region include Wythall, Lye and the Bescot Stadium.

Centro stated that it

“is urging rail passengers to oppose London Midland proposals to slash the numbers of staff at stations across the region.”

and announced that its chairman, Councillor Angus Adams, vice chairman Councillor Jon Hunt, and Opposition Group Leader Councillor John McNicholas had a written a joint letter to transport minister Theresa Villiers, saying

“the proposals would be totally unacceptable to passengers.


Councillor Adams said: ‘Their rationale for deciding changes fails to take into account the wider benefits of staff presence at stations, including the critically important role in reassuring passengers.

“We have made it clear to London Midland that were we a co-signatory to the franchise agreement the Integrated Transport Authority would not approve these changes.'”

The press release didn’t link to London Midland’s announcement on changes and consultation – which stated

“We understand that staffed stations can make people feel safer, but our ticket office staff are not best placed to combat crime. Many of our stations have CCTV and we will have help points in place at all stations, directly linked to someone who can provide reassurance or contact the emergency services. We will continue to work closely with the British Trasport Police (BTP) and monitor any changes in crime or anti-social behaviour following any changes.”(sic)

The Midland Metro tramway has no staff at any stop, but several stops have known security issues, for example, Lodge Road, Soho (Benson Road), and Winson Green (Outer Circle). Why there is a disparity in Centro’s attitude towards tram stop staffing, and railway station staffing, is unclear. Equally unclear is how the presence of a staff member would help, when many stations have longstanding design, equipment, and layout issues which prevent him or her even being able to surveil from the ticket office.

Spring Road railway station ticket officeSpring Road station, showing ‘portacabin’ ticket office which affords the stationmaster no view of the station platforms (there is no closed circuit television coverage)

Written by beleben

March 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm