Saturday

21st Jul 2018

Nine EU states to increase train security

  • Germany: 'We don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage ... in Germany or Europe' (Photo: Arjan Eising)

Nine Western European countries decided Saturday (29 August) to increase ad-hoc checks of train passengers' identities and luggage.

But the experience of travelling by train in Europe is to remain largely unchanged.

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“We can’t do and don’t want complete, comprehensive checks on people or luggage in trains in Germany or Europe", Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said, according to Associated Press.

De Maiziere and several transport and security ministers met in Paris eight days after the failed attack on a Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK, as well as the European Commission, attended the meeting.

They decided identity checks of passengers, as well as luggage checks on stations and trains will increase “where it is necessary”, according to a statement released by French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

The statement did not specify what constitutes "necessary".

“Mixed patrols, made up of law enforcement personnel from several countries, already exist in many countries. We will further reinforce these teams and deploy them more extensively,” the statement said.

The officials also decided to assess what the consequences would be of making it obligatory for international train tickets to be registered using the name of the passenger.

However, despite calls for increased security after a Moroccan gunman boarded an international train carrying an automatic rifle and a handgun, there is reluctance to make train security checks match those of air travel.

“The security and safety of passengers is our first priority. But of course we must not overreact”, EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said in a press release.

“It is essential that, as far as possible, public transport remains open and easily accessible. Security must be proportionate to the threat".

EU transport ministers will discuss train safety again when they meet in October.

Train scare prompts talks on EU security

The European Commission won't rule out proposing new legislation after transport ministers in October meet to discuss security after a gunman boarded a Thalys trained armed with an assault rifle.

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German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

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