Plans announced to increase security at French train stations

Armed SNCF patrolling agents should also be given authority to intervene during terrorist attacks, said Transport Minister Clément Beaune

An SNCF sécurité force agent in Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin)
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The government plans to increase patrolling agents, who are armed, around train stations and give them greater powers of intervention in the coming months.

It is not known if this will extend to platforms and travel on trains as well.

The change is aimed at fighting the recent nationwide rise in terrorist and bomb threats and was unveiled by Minister for Transport Clément Beaune on the TV show Quotidien yesterday (October 24).

Train stations are patrolled by French police and military forces as well as agents de sûreté ferroviaire, known as ‘Suge’, who have been allowed to be armed since the 2015 Thalys attack.

Read more: Tighter security after train attack

Mr Beaune said he is working on solutions to give greater intervention power and authority to agents in the case of terrorist threats, most probably referring to Suge agents although he did not specify this.

“Right now, they are not allowed to intervene if someone walks in with a knife,” said Mr Beaune, adding that “I do believe that they should be given the right [to intervene] considering the current situation”.

Police officers killed a man who threatened them with a knife at the Gare du Nord in Paris in February (the incident was not classified as a terrorist attack).

Agents should be allowed to intervene in the areas directly outside of the station, said Mr Beaune in another example, again likely referring to Suge agents and their work.

Mr Beaune said he was working with the Minister of the Interior to make legislative changes to speed up the plans, a process that can take from days to several weeks, he added.

No platform ticket barriers

Agent numbers will increase from 2,800 to 3,500 in another of Mr Beaune’s plans, with many of these expected to be deployed at Gare du Nord, which is used by 700,000 people each day.

The decision mirrors the recent increase in police numbers in airports following the raising of Vigipirate, France’s national security alert, to its highest level.

Read more: France placed on highest security alert - what changes for the public?

Mr Beaune said he was not considering the installation of ticket barriers at entry points in stations because a reduction of walking flow may create larger pockets of people that could be targeted by terrorists.

This is not the first time the issue of security at train stations has been raised.

Solidaires Douanes, the border agents’ main trade union, complained to The Connexion last December about the government’s plan to outsource baggage security checks to a private company, stripping an activity under the douanes’ authority since 1994.

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