EU ex­perts to dis­cuss rail se­cu­rity on 9/11

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

An EU work­ing group will meet on the sym­bolic date of Septem­ber 11 to dis­cuss road and rail se­cu­rity in the af­ter­math of the foiled ter­ror­ist at­tack of Au­gust 21, in which mass blood­shed on a high-speed train from Brus­sels to Paris was nar­rowly averted.

EU ex­perts told jour­nal­ists that the group will pre­pare for a min­is­te­rial meet­ing by the Jus­tice and Home Af­fairs Coun­cil on Oc­to­ber 8.

An ex­pert said that prior to 9/11, there had been no EU trans­port se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion. Af­ter the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the US, the EU adopted se­cu­rity leg­is­la­tion con­cern­ing air trans­port, but no leg­is­la­tion ex­ists for land trans­port, road or rail.

Another rea­son why no such leg­is­la­tion has been de­vel­oped is that there is no in­ter­na­tional body to set rules on road or rail trans­port, such as ICAO, the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The ex­pert also said that the for­mer Com­mis­sioner for Trans­port, Siim Kal­las, had iden­ti­fied this as a la­cuna, and has set up a group of ex­perts to look into the mat­ter. The group has so far met eight times.

How­ever, is­sues such as me­tal theft from in­fra­struc­ture had got­ten most of their at­ten­tion.

To trans­fer air­line rules to rail­roads may be un­work­able, ex­perts said, warn­ing against an over­re­ac­tion to the Au­gust 21 train in­ci­dent.

rail­way

Un­de­tected, the gun­man had brought an AK-47 as­sault ri­fle on­boad, with 270 rounds of am­mu­ni­tion, enough to kill a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of the 554 per­sons on the train. Pas­sen­gers sub­dued him, in­clud­ing two off-duty US sol­diers.

Is­sues such as the use of closed cir­cuit TV cam­eras (CCTV), and se­cu­rity checks of lug­gage and pas­sen­gers could be dis­cussed, ex­perts said.

Asked by jour­nal­ists to ex­plain what could be done at the EU level to im­prove the se­cu­rity of high-speed trains, ex­perts con­ceded that many things could be done at the na­tional level, but that the same mea­sures would take a very long time to be de­cided at the EU level, or would be re­jected for be­ing too costly.

In Spain, for ex­am­ple, fol­low­ing the bomb­ing of the Atocha train sta­tion in Madrid on March 11, 2004, lug­gage is rou­tinely checked for ex­plo­sives.

Re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble ex­change of pas­sen­ger name records (PNR) from the online reser­va­tions of the train ser­vices, EU ex­perts said this could only be de­cided at na­tional level. At EU level, the ex­change of PNR data cov­ers only the in­ter­na­tional flights, it was ex­plained.

Asked by EurAc­tiv about the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing rail mar­shalls on high-speed trains, in the same way as air mar­shalls se­cure flights in cer­tain coun­tries, Com­mis­sion ex­perts said that un­like an air­borne po­lice force, a rail mar­shall would be out of his ju­ris­dic­tion on for­eign soil.

Three EU coun­tries use air mar­shalls, one ex­pert said, but re­fused to name them, as this is con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion.

Re­gard­ing me­tal de­tec­tion, the ex­perts made it clear that there were more ways to se­cure rail­way pas­sen­gers than the de­tec­tors used for air­ports. Such de­tec­tors could be de­signed to de­tect spe­cific items, such as ex­plo­sives or weapons.

“Tech­nol­ogy is de­vel­op­ing. The bot­tom line is if there is a mar­ket for prod­ucts, the in­dus­try will man­u­fac­ture it,” the ex­pert com­mented.

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