Governments around the world are responding to attacks against the transportation infrastructure by increasing spending on security and developing new technologies to intercept terrorists before they can strike.
The recent attacks on the Russian city of Volgograd is focusing minds on the problem. Volgograd suffered three suicide bombings in recent months, one in October on a bus and two in December which hit a railway station and a trolleybus, and in the run up to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February, Russians are bracing themselves for more attacks linked to troubles in Chechnya and Dagestan.
According to market research company IHS, spending on explosives, weapons and contraband (EWC) detection equipment worldwide will rise in the period 2014-2017 by as much as 8.5 per cent a year.
Spending will be highest in Asia where there are a number of railway expansion projects nearing completion.
Rail travel is particularly vulnerable to attack because of the high volume of passengers which makes it impractical to screen all individuals. Even in air travel where the passenger volumes are significantly lower, mandatory security screening is a major bottleneck and delays to travel are commonplace.
There are signs that technology is catching up with the problem, which if it can be successfully deployed in real-world situations would enable authorities to screen larger numbers of individuals more quickly.
NATO and Russia have been collaborating on the development of STANDEX, the Stand-Off Detection of Explosives system. They claim that the system will make it possible to locate bombs in large crowds.
It has taken four years and €4.8m (£4m) to develop, and the first European test of the system took place at an unnamed European railway station in June 2013.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhNl8nWvSTQ[/youtube]
“Overall, the use of explosives detection equipment remains limited at rail stations; however, this is beginning to change as attacks on rail infrastructure continue. The developments of new technologies that meet the unique security needs of the rail industry are expected to drive future growth in the market,” said Jared Bickenbach, market analyst at IHS.