Engineers have developed bomb-resistant rolling stock to protect against terrorist attacks

Train carriages bomb-proofed to counter terrorism

Bomb-proofed train carriages could be rolled out to prevent a repeat of incidents like the London Underground terrorist attacks.

Engineers from Newcastle University have developed blast-resilient rolling stock and hope to offer advice to the rail industry on how to protect their passengers.

The EU-funded SecureMetro project was launched three years ago to test designs for overground and Tube carriages that minimise death and injury in the event of a bomb attack.

Drawing on lessons learned from the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings the team focused on two main areas – containing the blast impact and reducing levels of debris that kill, maim and impede emergency services.

Blast-protection measures included tethering down heavy components such as ceiling panels with retention wire, plastic coatings on windows, and the use of lighter energy-absorbing materials.

Conor O'Neill, who leads the team from Newcastle University's School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, said: "Preventing flying objects is the key. Tethering ceiling panels reduced the risk of fatalities and injury from flying shrapnel and also meant the gangways were kept relatively clear of debris, allowing emergency staff quick access to the injured.

"The window coating we developed was also incredibly effective. Without it the windows are blown outwards – putting anyone outside, such as those standing on a platform, at risk from flying glass.

"With the plastic coating you see a clear rippling effect as the blast moves through the train but every window remains intact apart from the safety windows which are designed to be easily knocked out."

High speed cameras were used to slow down the blast of a controlled explosion on a decommissioned Tube carriage, allowing its impact on the vehicle's structure and interior to be analysed in detail.

A similar test was later carried out on a prototype carriage especially built to reduce the damage caused by a bomb detonating inside it.

The engineers also investigated dividing carriages with materials that soak up energy and reduce the impact of a blast wave.

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