Information published on 23 June 2015 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 454.

Coping with Terrorism on the Railways: the role of Human Factors – High-Level UIC and RZD Workshop held in Paris from 16 – 17 June

  • Security

Following the terrorist attacks in France in January 2015, the Director General of UIC Jean-Pierre Loubinoux asked the members to put forward a joint proposal for the railway sector. On the basis of the replies received, it was decided to organise a specific workshop together with UIC and RZD to underline the importance of Human Factors to cope with terrorism.

The workshop organised in Paris on 16 and 17 June 2015 both by UIC within the framework of its security activity and Russian Railways (RZD) as Chair of the UIC Security Working Group dedicated to Human Factors, was one of the requests by UIC members, and a response from experts from Europe, Iran, India, Morocco, Israel, the United States...

The initial idea was to create a training session for experts, as Mr Bobreshov, RZD (Russian Railways) Vice-President reminded the members, but the series of terrorist attacks that affected France and other countries at the beginning of the year changed the initiative into a more high-level workshop focusing more on prevention and on the aspects of Human Factors, where experts from outside the railways and high-level delegates from national authorities and international bodies, alongside security representatives from UIC and some of its members could find common recommendations and best practices.
This broad cross-section of knowledge and responsibilities will be beneficial to the whole railways sector in terms of our actions and strategy, and will enable all members to more effectively serve their customers and protect their staff and companies.

Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General, said “the responsibility of the railway sector in the protection of the rail system, which as we know is of major social (i.e. societal) and economic importance. But history has shown that both urban public transport systems and railways are targets for terrorist acts, even if such systems remain amongst the safest and most secure. Protecting the railways against all types of risks and threats is first and foremost a domestic matter, with responsibilities split between national authorities and railways, as was highlighted in many of the responses we received to our initiative.
This protection then takes on an immediate international dimension, for the terrorist threat is global and no country can consider itself immune. Moreover, the ever-increasing growth in international rail traffic creates a need for a joined-up approach between neighbouring railways, and beyond that a need to ensure transport security from door to door, however many transport modes are used.
In response to this growing security need, it is vital to deploy resources, particularly human resources. To do this, analysis and expertise need to be developed and disseminated, experience shared, and appropriate training provided. Equally, it is not just a question of managing the present, but also of preparing for the future.”
Mr Verma, Indian Railways, Chairman of the UIC Security Platform, emphasised the evolution of threats over time and across the world. He highlighted the need to be prepared to react and to develop partnerships between all those involved.

Mr Missen, DG MOVE, European Commission, pointed out the vision and initiatives of the European Commission focusing on three priorities: prevention of terrorism, disorganisation of crime and mafia, and the fight against cybercrime. It appears that Europe has made some progress, but it is still the priority of the year, and above all the threat of employees becoming radicalised is having really negative consequences on the sector. All sectors must be taken into account, even if railways are the most affected. In the same way, no type of crime or offence must be neglected from terrorism to graffiti: some minor solutions can be useful to fight more important crimes. In any case, industries must work with the regulators in order to be efficient.

Mr Jenkins, Mineta Transport Institute, USA, shared his recognised expertise for transport safety. The worrying issue revolves around Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the conflict in Syria and Iraq attracting foreign recruits and will continue to be a factor of terrorism (returning to Europe afterwards). When attacking terrorists target iconic values and that includes railways: bombing is the primary terrorist attack and 79% occur on trains, because of the easy access, crowds facilitating concealment and high casualties.
The situation can always be questioned because foiling an attack means to move it elsewhere, which is why intelligence is essential too. The question of involving the public through campaigns is also important: how can they help fight terrorism without telling them that it is a dangerous mean of transport... Finally the problem of long-term vigilance highlights the limits of man and machine and how we can improve the interface.

Mr Dolev, International Working Group on Land Transport Security, Israel, reminded the audience that cyber safety is essential for land transport because of the millions of kilometres of lines which are impossible to monitor at all times. So the most critical systems and threats must be identified to develop best practices and prioritise the risky systems to finally implement a toolbox (reporting website and database). International cooperation is essential for cyber defence because cybercrime has no frontier, is not visible or even physical: to detect a cyber attack is not always easy because it never starts where it was launched.

Prefect Schott, Institut National des Hautes Etudes de la Sécurité et de la Justice (National Institute of Higher Studies in Security and Justice), France, described the easy and efficient organisation implemented for crisis management in France, and the various training sessions coordinated by the Prefect within the Institute.

The four sessions offered the attendance of recognised international experts and partners, from several UIC member railway companies. Finally, particular focus was given to crisis management and the crisis communication.

“Security of the railway system is our first priority” concluded the Chairman of the UIC Security Platform, Mr Rajiva Ranjan Verma. He spoke about “comprehensive security” as a crucial key to improve attractiveness and efficiency in the railway sector. He highlighted the importance to take into account staff training, involvement of public within its own security, and to develop adapted strategies to local constraints. Finally, he stressed the importance of working together to fight cyber crime, and the importance of intelligence services.

Mr Verma announced that the next security congress will be held in Delhi (India) from 8 – 10 December 2015.

Mr Gerd Neubeck, Vice President of the UIC Security Platform, underlined the ethical aspects in security, especially the human rights and data protection which are different from one country to another in Europe.

He concluded that lots of work has to be done by the UIC Security Platform beyond the research projects in progress.

The final declaration adopted by the participants is intended to provide a framework to the future work of the UIC Security Platform, especially on the involvement of the Organisational and Human Factors within the security policy.

Concluding declaration

The participants of the workshop thank UIC for having taken the initiative to organise this meeting and are pleased with its success, as 70 participants were registered representing 40 companies or organisations from 23 countries.

They consider that the level of the global terrorist threats requires cooperation to be improved between the various rail companies, national authorities and the relevant international bodies.

They stress the crucial place and role of human factors within the security policies developed by the railway companies.

They have asked UIC to publish a summary of the workshop specifically addressing the main debates and results of the workshop.

They have asked UIC to organise in an appropriate way the continuation of common work on the following topics:

Evolution of threats including cyber threats

Feeling of security v/s objective level of security

Training of staff: awareness of threats and vulnerabilities, professional skills ….

Involvement of clients in improving their own security

Dissemination of the information to UIC member contacts

Security communication strategy (internal, partners, media……)

A more detailed form of this text has been sent to all participants for comments and suggestions for the future, in order to present an updated text to the next General Assembly.

For further information please contact Jacques Colliard:

Or Virginie Papillault: