UIC and RZD workshop in Paris on coping with terrorism on the railways

Published on : Monday, June 22, 2015

UICThe workshop organised in Paris on 16 and 17 June 2015 both by the International Union of Railways (UIC) – the worldwide association of railways encompassing 240 members from 95 countries – within the framework of its security activity and Russian Railways (RZD) as Chair of the UIC Security Working Group dedicated to Human Factors, was one of the requests by UIC members, and a response from experts from Europe, Iran, India, Israel, the United States.



The initial idea was to create a training session for experts, as Mr Bobreshov, RZD (Russian Railways) Vice-President reminded the members, but the series of terrorist attacks that affected France and other countries at the beginning of the year changed the initiative into a more high-level workshop focusing more on prevention and on the aspects of Human Factors, where experts from outside the railways and high-level delegates from national authorities and international bodies, alongside security representatives from UIC and some of its members could find common recommendations and best practices.



This broad cross-section of knowledge and responsibilities will be beneficial to the whole railways sector in terms of our actions and strategy, and will enable all members to more effectively serve their customers and protect their staff and companies.



Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, said “the responsibility of the railway sector in the protection of the rail system, which as we know is of major social (i.e. societal) and economic importance. But history has shown that both urban public transport systems and railways are targets for terrorist acts, even if such systems remain amongst the safest and most secure. Protecting the railways against all types of risks and threats is first and foremost a domestic matter, with responsibilities split between national authorities and railways, as was highlighted in many of the responses we received to our initiative.



This protection then takes on an immediate international dimension, for the terrorist threat is global and no country can consider itself immune. Moreover, the ever-increasing growth in international rail traffic creates a need for a joined-up approach between neighbouring railways, and beyond that a need to ensure transport security from door to door, however many transport modes are used.

In response to this growing security need, it is vital to deploy resources, particularly human resources. To do this, analysis and expertise need to be developed and disseminated, experience shared, and appropriate training provided. Equally, it is not just a question of managing the present, but also of preparing for the future.”



Mr Verma, Indian Railways, Chairman of the UIC Security Platform, emphasised the evolution of threats over time and across the world. He highlighted the need to be prepared to react and to develop partnerships between all those involved.



Mr Robert Missen, DG MOVE, European Commission, pointed out the vision and initiatives of the European Commission focusing on three priorities: prevention of terrorism, disorganisation of crime and mafia, and the fight against cybercrime. It appears that Europe has made some progress, but it is still the priority of the year, and above all the threat of employees becoming radicalised is having really negative consequences on the sector. All sectors must be taken into account, even if railways are the most affected. In the same way, no type of crime or offence must be neglected from terrorism to graffiti: some minor solutions can be useful to fight more important crimes. In any case, industries must work with the regulators in order to be efficient.



Mr Jenkins, Mineta Transport Institute, USA, shared his recognised expertise for transport safety. The worrying issue revolves around Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the conflict in Syria and Iraq attracting foreign recruits and will continue to be a factor of terrorism (returning to Europe afterwards). When attacking terrorists target iconic values and that includes railways: bombing is the primary terrorist attack and 79% occur on trains, because of the easy access, crowds facilitating concealment and high casualties.



The situation can always be questioned because foiling an attack means to move it elsewhere, which is why intelligence is essential too. The question of involving the public through campaigns is also important: how can they help fight terrorism without telling them that it is a dangerous mean of transport… Finally the problem of long-term vigilance highlights the limits of man and machine and how we can improve the interface.



Mr Dolev, International Working Group on Land Transport Security, Israel, reminded the audience that cyber safety is essential for land transport because of the millions of kilometres of lines which are impossible to monitor at all times. So the most critical systems and threats must be identified to develop best practices and prioritise the risky systems to finally implement a toolbox (reporting website and database). International cooperation is essential for cyber defence because cybercrime has no frontier, is not visible or even physical: to detect a cyber attack is not always easy because it never starts where it was launched.



Prefect Schott, Institut National des Hautes Etudes de la Sécurité et de la Justice (National Institute of Higher Studies in Security and Justice), France, described the easy and efficient organisation implemented for crisis management in France, all coordinated by the prefect. China has even asked Europe for some training in crisis management. Before that, it is essential to work in conjunction with all sectors: education, police, military, research, politics, prisons, etc by organising training sessions for the heads of these sectors. The Institute concentrates on managing the diversity of profiles of radicalisation. This is why the aspect of Human Factors is absolutely essential.

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