Mobility and Transport


Improving passenger railway security

Improving passenger railway security

Improving passenger railway security
Consultation period: 

Terrorist attacks in the European Union have over recent years shown a greater focus on attacking public areas, where crowds of people with little or no protection can be killed or injured. Rail transport is one of these targets due to the large numbers of people travelling and the relatively open nature of rail transport compared with air transport. At the same time, Europe is also seeing an increasing development of new high speed trans-European rail corridors and the liberalisation of the rail market, a key element in the creation of a single European railway area, both of which should encourage more citizens to travel by rail. 

In responding to the heightened level of terror threat to transport and specifically rail networks, some Member States have strengthened their national security measures to protect rail transport, but this has been carried out in a largely fragmented and uncoordinated way. While these national initiatives can be welcomed as a pro-active response from Member States, these actions have highlighted the issue of coordination and achieving optimal efficiency while preserving the open character and accessibility of rail transport. Thus ensuring that they are compatible with the wider EU transport objectives to liberalise and develop the single European railway area and do not result in potentially discriminatory effects on some operators. 

Given the number of stakeholders who have to act to prevent or react to terrorist incidents, the difference in the perception of risks across the Member States and the openness and interconnectivity of the rail network, the coordination at European level is often very challenging, and can lead to an insufficient level of protection across the EU. The majority of Member States largely view their railway networks as a domestic issue and have a different approach to securing them leading to differences in measures and approaches. This by extension includes the security of international passenger railway services where Member States undertake ad-hoc bilateral discussions and agreements with neighbouring States concerning cross border railway services. However this has allowed gaps to develop in coordination on security matters.

While EU legislation to protect aviation and maritime transport from security threats is relatively developed, there are no corresponding measures at EU level for rail transport. In line with President Juncker's address on the State of the Union, the Commission adopted a package of measures on counter-terrorism on 18 October 2017, which announced the development of concrete measures to enhance the protection of public spaces, including rail transport. The Commission envisages addressing the increasing risk of harm to rail passengers from terrorist attacks through the implementation of a common approach to security risk assessment and the identification and implementation of appropriate and proportionate security measures which are subject to a formalised systematic EU-wide coordination mechanism. The need for a common risk assessment for public areas has also been highlighted in the 2016 Commission Communication on the European Agenda on Security and in several European Council conclusions.

Further information can be found in the inception impact assessment


Objective of the consultation

The European Commission is undertaking a consultation to collect the views of citizens and interested stakeholders on the extent to which common EU rules for the railway sector could facilitate the improvement of rail security for passengers travelling on rail services within the EU. This consultation aims at gathering the input of the general public and stakeholders and specifically evidence and data relevant to assessing the costs and benefits of potential railway security measures that could be proposed for implementation at the European level.

This consultation is taking place through an open public consultation and a targeted consultation with national authorities and stakeholders that focuses on the development of pan-European security measures and associated functional requirements. All consultation results will feed into a full impact assessment to be prepared by the Commission, which will be used to assess whether or not to make proposals in this field. You can find more information in the consultation strategy.

Consultation strategy


Consultation period

An open public consultation has been published which will last for 10 weeks, closing on 16 February 2018. A targeted consultation of national authorities and railway sector organisations is also taking place during January 2018.


Target group

All citizens and organisations are welcome to participate in this consultation. The consultation will be of particular interest to Member State public, transport and law enforcement authorities at national and other levels with responsibility for the security of railway operations and for the operators of railway services and infrastructure. We welcome responses from all individuals and organisations with views on how to improve passenger railway security, including operators of passenger railway undertakings, railway infrastructure managers, Member State national, law enforcement and transport authorities, railway passenger user groups, technology providers and citizens.



PDF icon Synopsis Report: Summary of the Consultation on improving security of rail passengers accompanying the document Commission Decision setting up the EU Rail Passenger Security Platform

Background documents

The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Commission commissioned a study which took place during 2016. The "Study on options for the security of European high-speed and international rail services" looks at the options for implementing appropriate and proportionate security measures, at a Union-wide level, to improve the security of high-speed and international passenger rail services and considers the security of the different elements of the railway system including the infrastructure, stations and trains. The study recommended that the European Commission in collaboration with other relevant bodies should focus on strengthening the following four aspects of rail security: the reporting and monitoring of security data, the security design of trains and stations, security risk assessment and contingency planning and the monitoring and awareness of security risks.

Further information about transport security and its objectives can be found here

For more information or additional questions please contact: 

Further information about the EU Action Plan for the protection of public spaces can be found here 

The European Agenda on Security

Consultation strategy



Please note that this information contained here has been drafted for information and consultation purposes only. It has not been adopted or in any way approved by the European Commission and should not be regarded as representative of the views of Commission staff. It does not in any way prejudge, or constitute the announcement of, any position on the part of the Commission on the issues covered. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.