Tougher Security for European Trains?
One of the advantages of train travel—and you hear it all the time—is that passengers don’t have to go through all the security hassles that have become part of any trip by air.
That could be about to change.
There is draft legislation floating around the Belgian parliament that would require each railroad to submit personal information 24 hours in advance on all international rail passengers traveling into or through Belgium. Obviously, this is a reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in several European countries.
There is no formal proposal as yet, but there is already a lot of grumbling. Much of it seems to be behind the scenes because there is reluctance on the part of one member of the European Union to criticize the security policies of another EU member.
Gathering the information 24-hours in advance will take time and cost money, of course, and checking each passenger against that information prior to boarding will also take time … a lot of it. After all, some of those high-speed trains can carry as many as 800 people.
The concern is obvious: If train travelers have to start coping with security issues for international train travel, their trips will involve more hassle and—start to finish—will take longer. And if the trip by train becomes significantly longer, many travelers could again opt to fly.
The fact is, German and Belgian high-speed trains instituted enhanced security measures a year ago after the terrorist attacks in Paris, but they supposedly proved ineffective and impractical. Personally, I’d guess that the word “impractical” is a very polite way of saying that they pissed off a lot of passengers.
Thank God, resistance is building, and not just from passengers. SNCB/NMBS (the Belgian State Railway Company) is in no position to make a lot of noise, being totally overpowered by the powers-that-be in the Government, but they did make clear it was too expensive for them. Deutsche Bahn on the other hand, has clearly stated they think the idea is bullocks, and have threatened to run less trains to Brussels.
Speaking of a boondoggle, there will be automatic gates in Brussels, Antwerp and Liège, but it’s said that they won’t be used all of the time…