Airwave, the provider of Great Britain’s emergency service radio communications network, announced that it has signed train operating companies Southeastern and South West Trains to its network. The railway organisations will provide their security officers with access to Airwave’s public safety network. This will benefit the train companies by improving direct radio contact between security staff on patrol as well enabling inter-communication with the British Transport Police (BTP) in certain agreed and pre-defined circumstances. The radio system will help the rail security officers working with the BTP to respond more effectively to crime and thereby provide a much safer travelling environment for passengers.
Prior to the Airwave service, rail security officers relied on mobile phones to communicate with each other when out in the field. In some instances this proved to be inefficient, due to patchy coverage, and insecure due to the risk from eavesdroppers. Airwave will enable immediate and direct contact between rail security officers and the BTP, helping them to respond much more efficiently and effectively to a security situation than was possible previously. Rail security officers and the BTP are often involved in joint operations, such as station stop-and-searches or ticket blocks and using Airwave’s network will greatly improve the success of such initiatives. The deployment will significantly enhance the safety of both staff and rail passengers whilst providing them peace of mind when travelling on the rail networks.
Airwave’s Client Manager for Fire & Civil Resilience, Mark Pearson commented: “Airwave is at the forefront of delivering cutting-edge mobile solutions to a full range of public safety organisations across Great Britain and the ability to expand our offering to rail networks presents an exciting opportunity for us. With every project the primary aim is to use technology for the task of improving the safety of Britain’s citizens and we are confident that both deployments will meet this aim admirably, improving the travelling experience of commuters.”
Southeastern’s Head of Crime and Security, Paul Nicholas, commented: “After arriving at Southeastern following a role with the British Transport Police, it was clear that the communication between our railway enforcement officers and the British Transport Police was less than optimal. Now, being able to communicate on Airwave’s network allows us to increase both employee and customer safety whilst improving our ability to deal with the small minority of passengers that try and disrupt our train service. We are very proud to be the first railway organisation that has been recognised by Ofcom for full sharer status as an organisation that provides emergency assistance to the police.”
South West Train’s Head of Security and Crime Prevention, Stuart Giddings, commented: “South West Train’s community officers already have a close working relationship with the BTP so I am confident that this deployment will further solidify the relationship and dramatically enhance our integrated approach to joint operations. It was encouraging to see the + success of Southeastern Railway’s project and deploying Airwave’s network makes complete operational sense to us. We anticipate much more flexibility for rail officers communicating between the control centre, officers on the beat and the BTP.”
The deployment will enable the rail security officers to instigate an arrest on the rail networks much more quickly than was possible in the past. This functionality is already providing benefits as was seen when a 14-year old passenger was recently mugged on a Southeastern Railway train during a trip to Essex. After disembarking from the train the passenger notified a rail security officer who was able to radio ahead to a local BTP officer further along the line. The officer was then able to apprehend the assailants before returning the passenger’s money. Prior to using Airwave’s network, this situation would have been very different as officers had to rely on reactive observation rather than proactive prevention of crime.
Southeastern has completed its implementation, supplying over 70 of its rail enforcement officers with Airwave terminals. South West Trains is due to finalise its deployment in September 2008.