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Russian bombing highlights security needs

by Brian Sims

The recent train station bombing in Volgograd Russia has once again focused attention on the vulnerabilities of rail infrastructure. According to a recently published report by IHS, purchases of explosives, weapons, and contraband (EWC) detection equipment at rail stations worldwide is expected to increase by 3.3 per cent in 2014, and 8.8 per cent in 2015. A large amount of this growth is expected to come from Asia where rail expansion projects are ongoing. As these rail project near completion IHS expects to see an increase in purchases of explosives detection equipment. Rail travel varies greatly by city, country, and region giving way to varying degrees of security. Unlike air travel, where all passengers and baggage is scanned for EWC, rail travel is not conducive to the same type of security measures. First, many passenger use rail services as their primary mode of transportation and depend on the easy access and convenience that rail transportation offers. Second, many rail stations have higher passenger volumes than airports. For example, in 2013 Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport had 71.1 million passengers, whereas Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station had 1.26 billion passengers. These factors have led to the development of new standoff detection technology to detect explosives in crowded areas. Ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, NATO and Russia started work on the Stand-Off Detection of Explosives (STANDEX) system. STANDEX was tested at several European rail stations and is expected to be deployed during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Worldwide rail stations continue utilize a combination of trace, advanced imagery, explosives detection canines, and explosives trace portals to detect explosives. Overall, the use of explosives detection equipment remains limited at rail stations; however, this is beginning to change as attacks on rail infrastructure continue. The developments of new technologies that meet the unique security needs of the rail industry are expected to drive future growth in the market.

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