ON APRIL 22 the European Parliament approved the proposals in the so-called Second Railway Package (RG 3.04 p121) for further liberalisation of the rail businesses. The legislation also paves the way for establishment of the European Railway Agency in Valenciennes, for which a board will be appointed this summer.

All this will change the political landscape for Europe’s railways, no less so than the accession of eight more member states with railways to the European Union on May 1. This opens up what the International Union of Railways calls ’extremely promising opportunities’, but also poses some specific challenges in terms of security.

Following the terrorist attack on Madrid commuter trains in March and widespread concern about illegal immigrants, there is increasing focus on security issues, especially at the new EU borders. To address this issue, UIC launched its Schengenrail project in Warszawa on April 7.

Co-ordinated by the UIC Security Mission, Schengenrail is being managed by a steering committee chaired by Polish State Railways board member Radoslaw Zolnierzak. The main objective is to consider the consequences of enlargement on international passenger services and to propose relevant security measures. A project team has begun defining technical and organisational measures to comply with regulations in force within the Schengen border-free area.

Discussions have started with the European Commission to define the legal framework to be taken into consideration and to agree practical arrangements for co-operation. Over the rest of the year Schengenrail will focus on three specific crossing points to develop a methodology which can then by applied to around 30 other border crossings.

The initial results are to be presented at the third World Railway Security Forum being organised by UIC, SNCF and railway police co-ordinating group Colpofer in Marseille on October 27-29.