SECUR-ED Midterm Conference – Technology, Training and Organisational Measures for Public Transport Security

Public transport is one of the most secure means of transportation, yet the fast pace at which cities grow leads to an increase in criminal activities that affect or directly target the public transport system and its users. These facts, corroborated with increasing terrorist threats, highlight the need to act, and the concerned stakeholders – institutional actors, public transport operators, manufacturers – are tackling these challenges by producing new security solutions in order to enhance public transport security.

This was the message conveyed by the SECUR-ED project, the biggest EU-funded FP7 demonstration project in land transport security, during its midterm conference. Organized by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the European Rail industry Association (UNIFE), the event took place on 30 May in Geneva and gathered numerous stakeholders from Europe and beyond.

Our aim is “to provide public transport operators of large and medium European cities with the means to enhance urban transport security through scalable and modular security solutions” stated Mr. Yves Perreal (Thales), the SECUR-ED project coordinator. He also pointed out the fact that the benefits are not only security-related, but also address the economic concerns by “enlarging mass transport security market for the European industry, thus providing growth and jobs”. The measures proposed can be subsumed to the three main pillars of public transport security – technology, training and organisational measures. “In such complex environments the combination of these factors brings the best output, thus ensuring that public transport is and will be THE mobility factor for society” outlined Thomas Kritzer, Chairman of the UITP Security Commission. Customers have high expectations from these public services and the perception of security is crucial, he added.

The EU is also acknowledging the increasing importance of security to land transport in general and to public transport in particular. Jacques Zachmann (DG MOVE) noted that such a large and diverse sector means that the “one size fits all” rule is not applicable, and that the EU is working with the sector representatives in order to establish and disseminate best practices. Also, the EU is determined to support the strengthening of security in land transport not just through policy measures, but also through active involvement: the FP7 funded projects, such as SECUR-ED, have already produced valuable input, and, in addition, the European Commission will include the transport and security topic in the next funding programme, Horizon 2020.

The SECUR-ED presentation film was screened, presenting the aim of the project partners, and the means to achieve it. Proposed security solutions will be integrated in a series of demonstrations in large and middle-sized European cities, so as to test their interoperability, scalability and reliability. The film also acted as a teaser, paving the way for the presentations and panels discussions that addressed the core aspects of the project.

The potential of security technology applications in public transport had been the focus of debate during the first section of the SECUR-ED conference. As outlined by the RATP (Paris) and ATM (Milan) representatives, technology plays a key role in mitigating both major risks, such as CBRN-E terrorist attacks or cyber threats, and the daily security problems. The organizational and operational integration of these technologies is the goal of the SECUR-ED demonstration in Paris. Jean-Luc Planchet stated that RATP aims at a broad framework of active protection by understanding where a security incident happens, what exactly is happening, and preparing and coordinating a response. Similarly, ATM combines new security technologies and legacy systems in order to obtain a real-time response to a security incident. Stefano Milanesi (ATM) underlined the fact that the aim of the Milan demonstration is not only to mount a security response from the public transport operator, but also to cooperate with the law enforcement and other emergency services in order to ensure the protection of passengers, staff and assets.

Among the aspects highlighted during the panel debate, financing was the main topic. Operators invest public money for security purposes, yet an attack may not directly target them directly, consequently it can be difficult to advocate increased security financing. Such budgets are also fluctuating, with more funds available only after a security incident. One solution commonly agreed by participants would be the spread of best practice experiences throughout the sector, thus bringing down costs. In terms of privacy and data protection, the culture of each country influences technological deployments – the UK has plenty of CCTV systems, while France and Germany are opposing their implementation. Yet the perception concerning data protection can always change following a major security event, thus the real ethical dilemma is finding a balance between the advantages and drawbacks that can be done with different technologies.

Notwithstanding the continuous technological developments, the human factor is the one which can make a difference, a fact underlined in the Berlin demonstration by Carolin Büttner and Katharina Rothe (Deutsche Bahn). All staff – front-line employees, security staff, security Control Centre operators and security managers – must be trained to react promptly and adequately. Ultimately, the aim of this exercise is not only to train staff in security matters, but also to teach them how to coordinate the reaction of all stakeholders in the aftermath of a serious security incident. And it is here that the improved stakeholder cooperation comes into play. SECUR-ED tries to bridge all relevant stakeholders in case of a security event, a matter addressed by the demonstration scheduled for Madrid. Bruno Schemoul (Thales) presented the way in which efficient stakeholder cooperation rests on integrated priority procedures, a coordinated response and technological interconnection, especially at the level of real-time information systems such as CCTV or multi-modal information management tools.

A subsequent panel, consisting of experts from the EU, Asia and N. America, discussed the role of trainings and stakeholder coordination with respect to public transport security needs. This provided a good insight concerning the way in which legal and organizational security frameworks from all around the world protect public transport. The cases discussed cover not only security staff or police forces but also, as in the case of Singapore, civil patrols that help maintain public transport security.

In the concluding remarks of the conference, Yves Perreal underlined the fact that the demonstrations, scheduled to take place throughout coming autumn/winter, will aim to demonstrate a number of security solutions not only for the direct beneficiaries of the exercise, but with an outlook of replicating the successful solutions in public transport networks worldwide.

For more information please contact:

Andrea Soehnchen:

Mihai Barcanescu:

Jan Steinkohl :


posted in: News by Andrei Ciufu
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