EU Ministers Say There Will Be More Spot Checks on Trains

Updated on

European security forces will increase spot checks on trains and expand the exchange of information about terror suspects, European officials said after a meeting to confront the risk of attacks on the continent’s rail networks.

The interior and transport ministers also said they’ll consider listing passenger names on all international rail tickets, and asked the European Union to work on a plan to better track trade in illegal guns, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after Saturday’s meeting in Paris, called following the thwarted Aug. 21 attack on a high-speed Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris.

“As a first stage, we’ll greatly increase sporadic ID checks and luggage inspection, not just on international routes but also on national high-speed trains,” French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies told reporters. “At a later stage, we’re going to work on giving more powers to the train networks’ own security forces and developing passenger lists.”

French President Francois Hollande said this week that a “massacre’ was narrowly avoided when passengers, including two off-duty U.S. servicemen, tackled a heavily armed gunman as he emerged from a toilet. The Moroccan suspect, who had lived in Spain and had been flagged as a terror risk by Spanish police, is in French police custody.

The attack underscored the risks facing Europe’s trains, which unlike airplanes depart from open stations with passengers able to buy tickets and board at the last minute. Identity checks are not currently required for boarding trains in most European countries.

Cazeneuve said the EU will use ‘‘all its tools” to help secure trains, while insisting that the ministers intended to “guarantee fluid international train traffic.”

Cazeneuve also used the meeting to renew his call to the EU parliament to allow the creation of Passengers Name Records for flights within the EU, which faces opposition on privacy grounds.

Saturday’s meeting was attended by ministers from France, Germany, the U.K., Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, as well as EU commissioners.