British engineers have found simple ways to reduce the deadly impact of bomb attacks on trains which could prevent a repeat of the heavy tolls left by the Madrid train attacks in 2004 and the London Underground bombings in 2005.
The designs by Newcastle University researchers include plastic-coated windows, energy-absorbing materials and wires tethering down ceiling panels. The intention is to reduce the amount of flying debris in the carriage.
This flying debris not only causes serious injury to passengers and bystanders but also hinders the work of emergency services. The findings are the result of a three-year, 4-million euro project called SecureMetro which is partly funded by the European Union.
The design changes can easily be fitted to existing train carriages and could help draw up new industry safety guidelines, said project leader Conor O'Neill.
"We don't want these solutions just to appear on new vehicles as they're coming off the line, we want to get these onto trains that are running on our rails now," "This means that we can start protecting passengers right away,"
Research included work on blast-resilient materials and a test explosion on a decommissioned metro carriage. The research team then used its findings to build and blow up a prototype carriage featuring the improvements.
These include tying down heavy items such as ceiling panels and speakers to prevent them from flying around the carriage once the bomb detonates. This can be done with simple wires, whose flexibility allow them to ride a blast without snapping.