Rail Network (Passenger Screening Trials)

Transport written statement – made on 26th June 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Tom Harris Tom Harris Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

During 2006, in response to the continuing terrorist threat to the rail network, the Department for Transport carried out passenger screening trials to test the ability of available equipment and dogs to detect explosives, or traces of explosives, in an operational environment.

The London Underground and National Railways (LUNR) passenger screening trials took place at five locations over a six-month period, with the full co-operation of the British Transport Police, Network Rail, London Underground and other stakeholders. Public attitudes surveys were conducted in parallel with the trials. Since then, we have been considering the results of the trials with key stakeholders and the implications for rail security policy.

I am publishing a summary report of the trials on the DfT website, together with five detailed reports on the public attitudes research. Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. We are not publishing detailed reports on the individual trials for security reasons, due to the sensitivity of the information within them.

At the same time, the British Transport Police is announcing enhancements to its current screening capability through the use of x-ray equipment and explosive detection dogs capable of screening moving passengers. These enhancements will build on the BTP's existing measures to screen a proportion of passengers and their bags, with minimal delay.

The enhancements are a direct response to the conclusions from the trials which showed that:

Screening equipment and dogs can be effective in the railway environment. However, given the very large passenger flows and thousands of entry points on the UK rail and underground networks, 100 per cent. airport-style screening is currently not feasible using today's technology.

The public recognises the threat to the rail network, and is broadly supportive of the need for security measures, providing they are proportionate to the threat. However the public would be unlikely to accept major delays to journeys, and wants to ensure that personal privacy is protected.

We will continue to work with the BTP and operators to assess the effectiveness and impact of these new measures and will use this evidence, and that from elsewhere in the UK and abroad, to develop further ways of keeping the travelling public secure using proportionate measures.