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the management of railways in the UK is hugely fragmented, leading to all sorts of confusion. The franchising system gives autonomy to the various companies to provide for their own security. But, unfortunately, there is no set pattern that defines the process of giving out security contracts to private companies. As a result, there are any number of security companies looking after different aspects of safety and security. Take, for example, a busy interchange

station in the centre of the UK. This station is used by at least half a dozen rail operators, passenger and freight, plus companies involved with maintenance and logistics. Most of these companies will have separately contracted security providers, in addition to the main firm providing security at the station. There is no denying the fact that this

could lead to a great deal of confusion, not just for the public but also among the security providers – whose responsibility is each task? Since the various companies do not necessarily have a co-ordinated strategic plan, or cross company communications, it certainly leaves our

railway stations, passenger and freight trains vulnerable to possible terrorist attacks. However, in my opinion, this is not

the only problem. The second issue – and one that is infinitely more solvable – is the range of skills and training inherent to each company. All the security personnel from different companies that operate in the railways should be properly trained to the same levels. The solution already exists in the

form of the RSAS, but it is staggering the number of operators who neither know about it nor check that their contractors

‘All the security personnel from different companies that operate in the railways should be properly trained to the same levels’

have been through the necessary training and accreditation. Working under the guidelines of the RSAS, the whole rail industry would be able to police the network far more efficiently. Why? Well the RSAS mission

statement says it all: ‘To work in partnership with others to help build a safe railway environment that is free from disruption and the fear of crime.’ One of the ways that RSAS achieves this is by improving flow of information among the people in charge of security. The accreditation also ensures that the people involved in railway safety operation are well trained and supported to deliver the highest possible quality of service. RSAS accreditation should be used as

a benchmark for providing the best levels of safety and security to passengers and railway property. Railways are a part of our national history and modern day infrastructure, and we must ensure that they remain safe for everyone and meet the highest level of security standards.

Abbey Petkar is the managing director of Magenta Security Services

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