Recent security improvements on the UK’s rail network

Source: RTM Aug/Sep 15

Andy Odell, policy and security liaison officer at ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies) and the RDG (Rail Delivery Group), comments on recent security improvements in the UK’s rail network.

There is no doubt that transport security is a top priority for our police and security forces. In terms of rail security, we’re working hand-in-hand with the BTP, DfT, security experts and the rail operators to support an updating of the National Rail Security Programme (NRSP).

This is an extremely comprehensive programme that clearly sets out security standards, how these should be upheld, and who are the security contacts responsible for ensuring the standards are correctly implemented. It covers how we maintain security standards across our trains, stations, freight and operator staff and rail infrastructure including buildings. When it was first produced, the NRSP was widely recognised as a groundbreaking document that demonstrated just how seriously the government is taking rail security. We are currently updating the document to reflect the latest requirements and technologies.

In the last few years, we have been scaling up CCTV interconnectivity right across our rail network. There are currently about 35,000 CCTV cameras across the network, many of which are connected to a central hub that can easily be monitored by the police. It’s a massive improvement, and its importance is reflected in the updated NRSP.

Another aspect we’ve been looking at in great detail is our people. Because there are now so many people involved in maintaining security standards across our rail network, we’ve had to develop a more structured approach to how we deploy our people – everyone is involved, from special constables and accredited railway security experts through to volunteers and our own operator staff. Earlier this year we launched a complementary policing ‘Good Practice Guide’ that focused on all people involved in rail security and this has proved extremely popular – it really demonstrates how we’re picking up on the key issues in a structured way. We also ran a number of roadshows that helped bring our approach and recommendations to life.

Then there are the processes we operate. The rail and security industries are now working together as a partnership much more than ever before, so we’ve had to examine some of the issues and challenges we’ve been facing and discover new ways of leveraging our knowledge and our resources more effectively. For example, the BTP has launched ‘Operation Trafalgar’, which examines and implements best practice use of its resources. We’re taking the most effective and successful aspects of this approach, and piloting them across the network.

About the author

Andy Odell resize 635772421657072455Andy Odell is a member of the advisory board for Transport Security Expo, being held on 2-3 December 2015 at Olympia London. Transport Security Expo is a fantastic opportunity for anyone involved in rail security. It’s an opportunity to meet some of the foremost experts in this field, as it brings together in a single place the latest technologies and approaches to tackling crime and terrorism.

Many of the topics that will be raised are relevant to everyone involved in rail security: for example, understanding the main challenges, current best-practice approaches and how to deploy these effectively in your own area. 

Ultimately, Transport Security Expo is a superb opportunity to network with like-minded individuals, share information and gain an even greater understanding of rail network security and how best to handle it.


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