Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 3, 2006

Britain invests in rail security scanners

Filed under: Ground Transport Security,International HLS — by Christian Beckner on April 3, 2006

British newspapers report today that the UK government is making a significant investment in airline-style passenger screening technology at rail stations. From The Telegraph:

Security scanners are to be deployed at major railway stations, Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary has claimed.

The portable technology will be used in a number of cities including Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh.

The move follows a successful trial of metal detectors at several Tube stations in London, which led to 100 arrests and the seizure of 68 knives after around 10,000 passengers were checked.

Within limits, this is a prudent investment by the UK, to the extent it introduces unpredictability into the system as a tool for preventing and deterring criminal and terrorist activity. But I don’t think 100% screening is either feasible or desirable, except perhaps on high-speed rail lines (i.e. TGV, ICE, Eurostar) which offer a higher-profile target.

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