Railway Security

7th July 2023

Enhancing Railway Security: A Shift Towards Prevention and WHY

On the 8th of May 2019, an incident occurred on the Morris Cowley Branch Line near Kennington Junction, Oxford. A train collided with an abandoned vehicle, leading to a lengthy delay of over 9 hours before the track was cleared. Shortly after, another train struck a deliberately placed 6-metre rail segment, highlighting a breach in railway security.

This incident was not isolated, as similar disruptions have occurred previously, emphasising the need for a proactive approach to prevent such occurrences.

This article proposes a paradigm shift by introducing the WHY framework, which focuses on addressing the root causes of railway security vulnerabilities.

The Limitations of HOT and WHAT Protocols:

The rail security industry has previously relied on the HOT (Hidden, Obvious, Typical) and WHAT (What, How, Alone or acting with others, Threat) protocols to respond to suspicious items or individuals. While these protocols serve a crucial purpose in the aftermath of an incident, they fall short in preventing such events from happening in the first place. This article argues that an emphasis on prevention is essential to enhance overall railway security.


Introducing the WHY Framework:

To address the gaps in current protocols, the article proposes the implementation of the WHY framework. WHY focuses on evaluating the ability of unauthorised individuals to access railway premises, thereby forming the cornerstone of effective railway security measures. The framework consists of three key elements:


WWhat is the current Physical Deterrent:

Assessing the effectiveness of existing physical barriers, such as security fences or hedgerows, becomes crucial. This evaluation should determine if these deterrents effectively prevent unauthorised access or if they require upgrades or supplementary temporary security systems.


HHow does it delay:

Understanding the potential access points and evaluating the delay factors is essential. This involves considering whether unauthorised individuals can gain access over, under, or through existing physical barriers. Furthermore, analysing the time it would take to breach these barriers and the equipment required sheds light on vulnerabilities that need addressing.


YWhy is it Important and Impactful:

Considering the significance of the protected area and the potential impact on the rail network if a breach occurs is crucial. This evaluation helps determine the level of security measures needed and ensures that resources are allocated appropriately based on risk assessment.

Enhancing Railway Security Through Prevention:

By regularly reviewing the WHY framework in conjunction with nationwide railway operations, a higher level of railway security can be achieved. This comprehensive approach enables authorities to identify vulnerabilities, deploy temporary security systems when necessary, and upgrade existing physical barriers to prevent security breaches. By focusing on prevention, the need for reactive responses based on HOT and WHAT protocols can be minimised.

Railway Security


The railway industry must shift its focus from purely reactive measures to proactive prevention strategies. By adopting the WHY framework, stakeholders can address the root causes of railway security vulnerabilities, evaluate and enhance physical deterrents, and allocate resources effectively, whether this is the deployment of temporary security systems or upgrading permanent physical security fencing. By doing so, the industry can significantly reduce the occurrence of security incidents, ensuring the safety of passengers, crew, and the overall rail network.


Enhancing railway security requires a proactive approach, and partnering with security experts is vital in achieving this goal. At CLD, we understand the importance of preventing security breaches and protecting valuable railway assets. Our range of railway security solutions, including physical barriers and deterrents, are designed to address the vulnerabilities identified through the WHY framework.

By collaborating with CLD, railway authorities can ensure a safe working environment and effective prevention strategies. Whether in need of temporary security systems to address immediate concerns or seeking long-term solutions, our expertise in railway security can be relied upon to safeguard railway premises effectively.

Get in touch with a security fencing expert at CLD today. Call us on 703-234-2627, email us at info@cld-systems.com, or fill out our contact form and a member of our team will get back to you.

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