Following the foiled terrorist attack on an interational train on the border between Belgium and France, there’s a worry that opportunistic politicians will propose airport-style security theatre for rail travellers. Anyone who actually cares about rail travel must resist and oppose such proposals by every means possible.
It’s not just that such things have the potential to make rail travel as miserable an experience as air travel has become post 9/11, but they would completely ineffective when it comes to saving actual lives. All it will achieve would be to make would-be terrorists find other softer targets. We learned that lesson fighting the IRA in the 1970s.
At worst, degrading the passenger experience of rail travel would encourage a proportion of travellers to take to their cars instead, and a proportion of them would then die in additional road accidents. Even if that doesn’t happen, how about multiplying an extra 30 minutes enforced check-in time by the many millions of rail journeys a year. Just how many lifetimes’ worth of wasted time will that add up to? All for something which will achieve precisely nothing.
It goes without saying that any politician advocating such things as policy guarantees that their party will never get my vote.