ID checks and baggage searches on European rail routes to be increased


European ministers have agreed to increase security on key international rail routes and improve intelligence sharing after the thwarted gun attack on a French train.

Home Secretary Theresa May and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin were among representatives of nine countries at a summit in Paris called to formulate a co-ordinated response to the threat of an atrocity.

It produced an agreement to introduce tougher identity checks and baggage searches in both stations and trains after Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani was able to board the Thalys service with an assault rifle, 270 rounds of ammunition, a handgun, box cutter and petrol.

British IT expert Chris Norman and three US tourists subdued the suspected jihadist as he tried to launch his attack on a journey from Amsterdam to the French capital.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after the talks that is was "essential to put in place co-ordinated operations on certain targeted routes".

The nations taking part, which also included Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, had also agreed to "co-operate more closely still" over intelligence about the movements of suspected terrorists.

Mrs May said the attack on the Thalys service was "a shocking reminder of the threats we all face".

"In Europe we must stand together in the face of such evil. Today I reiterated the importance of proactively sharing intelligence across borders; particularly travel data and criminal records; and ensuring our law enforcement agencies are working hand in hand.

"Only by working together can we protect our citizens and defeat those who want to harm us.

"The heroic behaviour of those who stepped in and undoubtedly saved lives demonstrated the shared values that underpin our society - those of fairness, democracy and the willingness to stand up to terrorism."