Saturday 24 March 2018

European countries to increase ID checks on trains after terror attack

Rules allow for security to be stepped up by national police as long as actions are targeted and do not substitute for border checks. (AP)
Rules allow for security to be stepped up by national police as long as actions are targeted and do not substitute for border checks. (AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

European countries will increase ID and baggage checks on trains after passengers thwarted an attack on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, France's interior minister said.

Bernard Cazeneuve said the checks would be carried out "everywhere it is necessary" but did not give other details.

He spoke after an emergency meeting in Paris with top security and transport officials from nine countries and the European Union in the wake of last week's attack.

He also called for better coordination on intelligence and security across Europe's border-free travel zone.

The suspect in last week's attack had been on the radar of European surveillance but bought his ticket in cash and showed no ID before bringing an automatic rifle and a handgun on board the train unnoticed.

Mr Cazeneuve also said officials are looking at ways to work with the aviation industry on improving train security.

The ministers are also talking about giving train security staff more powers, and increasing the number of mixed patrols of international police teams on cross-border trains, according to four French security or justice officials.

One thing not on the table was calling into question the principles of Europe's border-free travel, known as the Schengen zone.

The security officials said there is no way to monitor each passenger and bag without choking the continental train system, which Europeans rely upon heavily.

"We can't do and don't want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe," German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said on the sidelines of the meeting.

He said the main issue is to improve targeted cooperation and the exchange of information on suspicious people.

France alone sees tens of thousands of international train passengers daily, in addition to millions of daily domestic train travellers. The country's national rail authority SNCF is concerned about the cost of additional security, according to one of the French security officials.

Countries involved in Saturday's meeting were France, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the European Union's top transport and interior affairs officials.

EU officials were expected to press for the increased use of closed circuit cameras in trains and stations and more metal detectors at entrances.

The European Commission was to raise the idea of using full-body scanners for people who try to board at the last minute. Another idea is the more concerted use of passenger information, which some companies already collect, like the traveller data collected in air transport.

Plainclothes "rail marshals" are another possibility.

The results of the conference will be debated by Europe's rail security group on September 11, and forwarded for EU transport ministers to discuss when they meet on October 7-8.

Read more here:

EU to step up security after foiled train attack

Press Association

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