Modern society is heavily dependent on transport and energy networks. When transport networks shut down, employees cannot go to work and goods cannot reach their destination. When energy networks shut down, economic activity stops.
Transport and energy networks may shut down for a variety of reasons: extreme weather conditions or major accidents are two examples. The interdependence of networks can also result in shutdown, as when electrical power fails and all public transport services come to a halt.
The additional threat of terrorist attack against critical infrastructures also emerged. Attacks in Madrid and London have shown the vulnerability of passenger rail transport and there is a need for greater security of transport and energy networks.
COUNTERACT was a European research project set up to improve security against terrorist attacks aimed at public passenger transport, intermodal freight transport and energy production and transmission infrastructure.
COUNTERACT focused on the protection of critical transport infrastructures, public transport passengers and goods. It aimed to support the transport and energy sectors by assessing the State-of-the-Art and identifying, prioritising and assessing the needs for security policies and concrete measures.
COUNTERACT contributed to:
- improving the knowledge and understanding of current terrorist threats and related risks for the transport and energy sector;
- collecting available experience and existing best practices;
- establishing a sound collaboration with police, security, emergency and military services including a framework for co-operation of public and private institutions;
- identifying existing gaps of knowledge and lacks in legal provisions, policies, procedures, tools, technologies and standards;
- providing targeted solutions in framework of targeted studies;
- elaborating recommendations for measures to enhance protection of infrastructures and to improve preparedness and response to crises as well as future legislative initiatives and R&D activities;
- specifying needs for education and training and
- making recommendations to assist policy and legislative processes.
COUNTERACT reviewed the existing security policies, procedures, methodologies and technologies to identify the best practices which in turn are promoted throughout the relevant security community in the EU. The three industry clusters covering public passenger transport, intermodal freight transport and energy could exchange experiences and views.
The project stressed two angles of view at the European level:
- global background assessment of the current terrorist threat to public transport, freight and energy;
- impact Assessment on "Rail and urban passenger transport security at the European Level regarding terrorist threats in railways and urban passenger transport" looking at current protection structures, possible policy options and an impact analysis.
The Thematic User Group (TUG) for the Freight Transport Cluster was led by the UIRR and included freight transporters; freight terminal, parking and depot operators; air cargo handling companies; freight forwarders; third party logistics providers; warehouse operators; and Customs, as well as other authorities (police, security, intelligence, anti-terrorist, etc).
The work under the project resulted in the following:
Canvas for future project activities with common structure for all clusters
- Legal framework,
- Existing procedures,
- Available tools and technologies,
- Design standard for infrastructure, installations and rolling stock.
Key Issues/ Needs Identified
- Lack of consistency of security provision,
- Development of a generic methodology for risk assessment,
- No overarching security policy for any of the sectors at the European level.
- Security messaging/ campaign (customer awareness raising)
Reference Library & Knowledge Centre
- Web-based tool for policy makers and stakeholders,
- Common framework but cluster-specific sections,
- Existing legal provisions
- Good practices
- Monitoring of incidents and lessons learned
- Tool to assess impact of security measures on the business
- Modular and expandable product that could be turned into a permanent service
Nature of Threat Defined
- Terrorist attacks (United States, Spain and the United Kingdom) have established a threat of extreme severity from international terrorism.
- Further attacks remain a prominent danger, as several subsequent thwarted attempts testify.
- Public transport has, in the past 60 years, been seen as an appropriate target for terrorists.
- The terrorist threat to Europe’s freight network gains far less attention, but any serious attempt at assessing the risk must look beyond past experience.
- One cannot be certain where terrorists will strike next.
- BUT the terrorist likes to succeed.
- A shift in terror targeting away from better protected transport, freight or energy platforms and infrastructure.
- Given the set of security variables within Member States across the European Union, those lagging behind should improve their security and resilience capabilities in order to afford levels of public confidence across the European Union.