Thalys train employees to practice facing terror scenarios

AP News
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Posted: Sep 18, 2015 1:13 PM
Thalys train employees to practice facing terror scenarios

PARIS (AP) — The high-speed train operator Thalys is going to train its employees to respond to terrorist scenarios and dangerous situations following a report that a ticket inspector panicked during the Aug. 21 attack on a train to Paris.

In that attack, a man with ties to radical Islam boarded the train with a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol and a box cutter. He was subdued by passengers as he emerged from a toilet carrying his weapons, including three Americans friends, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler.

A report released Friday by Thalys noted that a ticket inspector ran away and locked himself in a luggage van with five other people without alerting the train's passengers. The report said he feared for his life and panicked.

Thalys announced it will train its employees to exhibit appropriate gestures and inform passengers properly in such situations.

The report said after people were attacked, the train was redirected toward the most appropriate station in the closest city of Arras and that wounded people were quickly taking care of. But it said the train driver was trained on the Thalys itinerary only and had no knowledge of the railway to Arras, so he decided to drive at a low speed.

The Thalys train covers four European countries: France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. The express rail service is often used by senior EU officials to reach the EU capital of Brussels.

The company pledged to improve the communication system between service personnel and the train driver, who is separated from the rest of the train for security reasons. During the August attack, the report said it took two minutes to the driver to get a good understanding of the situation since ticket inspectors were not in position to call him.

Police in the Netherlands, meanwhile, arrested a man Friday who locked himself in the toilet of a Thalys heading for Paris. The train was evacuated as a precaution at Rotterdam Central Station.