EU to review rail security after foiled Thalys attack

Belgian police guard Thalys train. Brussels, August 2015. [Reuters]

The European Union will review railway security on high-speed international lines after last week’s foiled attack in France. But officials warned on Monday (24 August) against overreaction.

EU transport ministers are likely to discuss the issue when they next meet in early October, according to spokespeople for the European Commission and for the Council of the EU, which runs ministerial meetings among the member states.

Commission spokesman Jakub Adamowicz told reporters that security issues would be reviewed after passengers subdued a gunman onboard the Amsterdam-Paris Thalys express last Friday.

Asked about suggestions that travellers might be have to submit to identity or security checks before boarding trains such as the Thalys, Adamowicz was cautious, however. A working group of national and EU officials as well as industry representatives, set up in 2012, had so far seen only “moderate interest” in major changes, he said.

“It’s a question of proportionality for each mode of transport,” Adamowicz said when asked whether airline-style bag checks might be introduced – as they already are for travellers on passenger trains using the tunnel between France and Britain.

Tighter security would slow boarding and create costs and logistical problems. It was important, Adamowicz said, to avoid a “hyperactive” response that might prove “counterproductive”.

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