MPS Goes Underground in the United Kingdom Lessons Learned on the Water, Put to Use on the Rails

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The tragic attacks on LondonÂ?s transport infrastructure on 7/7 and the failed attempts 2 weeks later heightened all of our most dreaded fears: Â?Â?who, what, when, where, why, and howÂ?Â?!

The tragic attacks on London’s transport infrastructure on 7/7 and the failed attempts 2 weeks later heightened all of our most dreaded fears: “…who, what, when, where, why, and how…”!

Memories raced immediately to Madrid… and, even more dramatically to Tokyo and that morning rush hour of March 20, 1995, when a group of terrorists placed containers of the nerve gas sarin in five cars on three of Tokyo's ten underground railway lines – a system that comprises 230 km of track and transports many million people daily.

Sarin containers were put in rail cars that were expected to arrive in one Central Tokyo station at approximately the same time... Within minutes, alarms were received from fifteen underground stations. Initially, fire or explosions were suspected, but victims’ symptoms soon indicated that a nerve agent (which was verified within a few hours by police chemical experts) had been dispersed. In total, some 5,000-6,000 persons were exposed: 3,227 taken to hospitals -- of which 493 were admitted; 17 developed severe symptoms requiring intensive care; and 12 died from the sarin exposure. A decade later, the tragic attacks on London’s transport infrastructure on 7/7 and the failed attempts 2 weeks, awakened those horrific memories.

In March of this year, Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, announced a broad range of security related issues for the British Rail Industry. Most issues concentrate on enabling staff, at all levels, with the implementation of a security culture throughout the industry and acknowledgment that a majority of issues will be, to some extent, attributable to human as well as technical failures.

Six weeks before 7/7, MPS (U.K.) was engaged to conduct security assessments at two major train care centres by a major contractor responsible for Urban Maintenance Operations supporting the London Underground Network. The U.K. Government has long realized that the UK Rail Network is vulnerable to attack and is now pro-actively implementing key legislation to militate against this.

Wally Lewis, Director of Operations & Administration, MPS (U.K.) explained the concept: “What we’re looking at is an Interchange Strategy -- to promote: the development of new and enhanced rail facilities at ports and inland terminals; an increase in the proportion of warehousing, which is rail-connected; an increase in the available intermodal terminal capacity; and, on the developers side of rail-connected distribution sites, a distinct need to secure support for their development schemes -- to maximize the successful security implementation -- in the planning process. Rail and underground security in the UK has a strong foundation in place which was developed over time. A recent Government review, incorporating those lessons, but with a focus on the different methods (increasingly being used by international terrorists) and taking into account the obvious constraints and practical difficulties in trying to secure the open, mass-transit system that characterizes the rail network today, supports this concept. As with most threats, after identifying the threat, the key is to then keep it at bay and hopefully negate it. We know the nature of the threat, a rough modus operandi and the targets. Simply stated: strike at the very core of western civilization -- its people -- regardless of age, color, gender or creed.”

MPS CEO, John Bennett added that: “… having completed the first security assessments in the UK, our team is looking to expand into the greater infrastructure of the UK Rail Industry. This, of course, will not detract from our primary focus on the maritime/intermodal/transportation industries, but complement it. There are distinct similarities between the modes of transport and definite crossovers, particularly with regard to containerization and deep sea/rail/road freight.”

In the United States lawmakers are aggressively pursuing passage of legislation, this year, to improve rail security – suggesting that the nation's railroads have taken a “backseat to other antiterrorism funding efforts.” However, rail-related trade groups appear lukewarm to these initiatives because, they say, the provisions will increase costs for both the industry and for consumers. Still, everyone agrees, “… something should be done, and it should be done now.”

About MPS:

N.B. -- NEW ADDRESS = 1052 S. Powerline Rd. Deerfield Beach, Fl. 33442, NEW PHONE = 1-954-428-6880

MPS -- recognized as being a major force in the critical dimensions of maritime, inter-modal and transportation security. Accordingly, MPS continues to diligently pursue its well-deserved leadership position around the globe. Committed to setting the standard, MPS -- through its unique integrated-discipline methodology -- has consistently been able to respond directly to the diverse and demanding needs of an impressive international client group, including: prominent seaports, shipping companies, shipping lines, petro-chemical and other industry leaders as well as governments and government regulatory agencies.

Acknowledged by the U.S. Coast Guard, The MCA, Bureau Veritas, Transec, MARAD and a host of other governing and regulatory authorities throughout the world as providing exceptional services – proficiently and professionally, MPS has established a firm position at the forefront in: training, education, compliance, management, administration, integration and consulting in a wide range of categories and fields including: International Ship and Port Security Code (ISPS), the US Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), the ILO’s Code of Practice (COP), satellite and terrestrial security tracking technology, surveillance, monitoring, and more.

To learn more about MPS and its programs and offerings, visit our website at: http://www.mpsint.com or contact us directly by calling: U.S. 1-954-428-6880 or U.K. +44(0)1202 684686.

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Dr. Robert Sewak
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