September 3rd, 2014
Yes I realize it sounds very morbid. But this month marks the 9th anniversary of the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and there is something interesting happening in the world of train design that stems from the terrible experience of the major mass transit terrorist attacks of the last decade. The idea is, you can’t make all the existing train cars bomb proof, but you can try to innovate designs for new vehicles to be able to handle the impact of explosions.
The EU funded program is called SecureMetro, in which multi-national manufacturer Bombardier, along with 11 transportation authorities from all over Europe, have come together to study the effect of the bomb blast wave which hit the train in 2004. In addition to studying attacks from the past, they are also testing design concepts that could help reduce casualties and injuries. Details like replacing heavy overhead structures with light weight materials, or coating windows with plastic to reduce the danger from flying glass, or using energy-absorbing materials within the interior of the car. While reducing the potential harm to passengers, the goal is also to make obtaining access to injured or at-risk passengers easier for first responders.
The UK based research collaboration is also working on aspects of station and rail network design, to identify areas where things can be made more resilient to terrorist attacks. There is even a psychological aspect to their work, with the idea that such measures could, in themselves, make rail transportation less attractive as a vulnerable target for future attacks.
Source: Railway Gazette
Photo: Peter Broster/ flickr