UIC Security Week 2018 – eyes and ears!

VIA Rail Canada, Dutch Railways (NS), French Railways (SNCF), PKP SA, Deutsche Bahn (DB), Infrabel….

Keeping the railways as safe as possible depends in part on vigilance by rail staff and the public. During UIC’s Security Week 2018 at its Paris HQ, the morning of presentations on 20 June – Security Awareness Day – highlighted action on the ground to foster this collaborative culture.

Amadeus look right_Sept 2017

Every employee is part of the security team

In the case of an incident, the steps to be taken to assist VIA Rail’s security team in responding are ‘Recognise – Record – Report’.

“The theme for 2018 is that every one of our employees is part of the security team,” said Marc Beaulieu, VIA’s chief transportation and safety officer. To ensure everyone concerned is on the same page, the company has committed to three different audiences:

– locomotive engineers, track and signal maintainers, maintenance centres: keep on the look-out for possible signs of sabotage, trespassing, suspicious objects on the tracks and other railway property, including derail devices. Also, when conducting railway vehicle security inspections, be observant for anything unusual

– on board trains and in stations: staff are reminded to focus not on who (race, gender etc.) but on behaviour and incidents

– offices and customer centres: suspicious mail or packages – VIA is often targeted by anarchists to get the government’s attention.

“Our security threat level for passenger rail in Canada is medium but all the processes and procedures, the crisis management and oher measures, have to be top of mind,” insisted Mr Beaulieux. “Being pro-active is vital.”

Speaking about radicalisation, he pointed out that the process can happen to anybody anytime. “We have to be attentive to the risk, both internally and externally.” Here VIA’s mental health programme is designed to educate and support staff, helping them to recognise telltale signs and know when to flag up suspicious behaviour. “Indicators also include appearance, habits, relationships, identity, and ideology,” added Mr Beaulieu.

VIA is keeping an eye on human trafficking, too – “where it’s easier to travel by trains and through rail stations in Canada than by air.” To tackle the crime, the company has ran a campaign to raise awareness and educate the public on how to recognise and report it.

Making staff security aware

In 2015, Infrabel created its Corporate Security Office and drew up a security management strategic plan for 2016-2019.


Since then, the Belgian rail infrastructure manager has built up “a strong internal security network including 52 local security offices nationwide, plus a strong external security network, working closely with one of our main clients, rail operator SNCB, as well as Belgian railway police, private security firms, the Interior and Transport Ministries, and intelligence services,” said Carl Lapiere, security management advisor, Infrabel.

The company’s security awareness approach is based on the conviction that by raising the collective consciousness it can adjust collective behaviour, “We also believe that by increasing security awareness we can change our employees from a weakening factor to a reinforcing factor,” added Mr Lapiere.

Among the in-house security priorities for 2018 is badge management. “We want to develop new posters following the example of Network Rail’s ‘Who are you?’ campaign,” said Mr Lapiere, adding that one of the big challenges here is increasing the involvement of middle management – “especially when it comes to ‘wearing your badge visibly’.”

In April 2017, German rail operator DB launched DB Planet, a social intranet serving as an information tool and knowledge pool, as well as providing channels for dialogue. “In 2018 we are running a data protection campaign via DB Planet, which is helping raise awareness of security issues,” said Prof. Gerd Neubeck, head of security, DB

Inspectors on the station beat

What to do in the case of a terrorist attack on rail in the Netherlands? ‘Run – Hide – Tell’ is the response recommended by Dutch Railways (NS), which is taking the risk very seriously. Especially since the biggest threat in the country, according to government, is an attack with guns or other weapons at stations.

NS_Security inspectors_UIC June 2018

“At the end of 2017 we created a new job profile, the security inspector (pictured in slide above), in response to requests by the Dutch police and other emergency services,” said Marcia Van Hugten, crisis management advisor, NS.

“Typically coming from the police, law enforcement and defence sectors, these agents undergo intensive training and a team-building programme to learn from each other and share experiences. Since January 2018, they are patrolling Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and Schiphol stations.”

“In Poland today, law enforcement authorities can’t impose fines on people leaving their luggage unattended. Legislative steps are however underway to make this possible, but the process isn’t easy” – Dominik Kogut, PKP SA

Act safe

Agissons sûreté (Act safe) is the new security slogan at SNCF directed at everyone from employees to service providers to passengers to distributors to infrastructure and goods.

“The long-term managerial approach to security for the whole company is based on four pillars: compliance with procedures; awareness; IT security; and obligations with regards discretion and confidentiality,” said Catherine Jarrige, SNCF.

“The way to raising security awareness aims to be simple and efficient, and include assessment and development tools,” she added.


SNCF’s K-9 dog units (brigade cynophile de détection d’explosif de la SNCF), pawtrolling stations since 2016 to improve people flow, represent another card up its security sleeve.  “On average, train service disruption times caused by left luggage or objects at stations is reduced from 50 to 13 minutes thanks to our sniffer dogs,” pointed out Ms Jarrige.

In 2017, across the French rail network:

  • 8,200 left luggage incidents affected 12,000 trains
  • SNCF’s 26 K-9 units on pawtrol intervened on 1,200 occasions and saved 43,364 minutes

Said Ms Jarrige: “The dogs bring real added value since they enable fast responses, help maintain traffic fluidity, and keep the financial impact of train delays down,”

With their own ID cards, the frontline K-9 dogs also serve as security ambassadors,  instigating  contact with the public to raise awareness of matters both canine, and security at large.

UIC Security Week 2018_Flickr_cc_geopungo
Photo credit: Flickr/cc – geopungo

Flyer_next UIC Security Events

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s