Responsibilities of the Maritime and Land Transport Security Division

Maritime and Land Transport Security Division is responsible for counter-terrorist security on the rail networks.

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Maritime and Land Transport Security Division no longer exists after a departmental restructure.



Maritime and Land Transport Security Division (MLTS) of the Department for Transport is responsible for counter-terrorist security on the national rail network, London Underground and Channel Tunnel, and the security of dangerous goods in transit.


  • The department took the responsibility for setting and enforcing railway security standards on 22 February 2000, whilst Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies (TOCS) continue to be responsible for the day to day delivery of security.
  • This brought the railways into line with the Aviation, Maritime and Channel Tunnel sectors with the responsibility for setting standards, inspecting against them and taking necessary enforcement action to ensure compliance being undertaken by MLTS.
  • Security standards are set out in the National Railways Security Programme (NRSP). This document is issued to TOCS, Network Rail and others with direct involvement in railway security. The document details both mandatory and best practice standards for the industry.
  • Instructions served on the rail sector were most recently updated in 2009.

Underground and light rail security

  • London Underground and the British Transport Police (BTP) have over 30 years of direct experience in dealing with terrorism. During this period, sound measures to deter the treat of terrorists have been devised and implemented successfully.
  • In July 2003 the department used instructions to London Underground Ltd (LUL) under the Railways Act 1993 to formalise the protective security measures already in place. These instructions came into force in October 2003 and currently subject to review.
  • A supporting London Underground security programme, developed in consultation with LUL and BTP, was issued in August 2003. This is also the subject of review.
  • London Underground Ltd continues to be responsible for the day to day delivery of security.
  • The department acts as regulator: an inspection regime to monitor and enforce compliance has been established.
  • The wider review of rail security, following the Madrid attacks, recommended the security regime be extended to other underground, light rail and tram systems in the UK.
  • Regulatory security regimes are in place for Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and Glasgow Subway; these are kept under constant review. The remaining 7 systems (Tyne & Wear Metro, Manchester Metrolink, Nottingham Tram, Sheffield Supertram, Croydon Tramlink and Blackpool Tram and the subject of recommended security best practice guidance which was issued in 2007.

Channel Tunnel security

  • The Treaty of Canterbury signed by the UK and France 1986 established the need for the defence of the Channel Fixed Link and this was incorporated into domestic legislation through the Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994.
  • The order requires the operators of the Tunnel and any trains that transit it to apply counter-terrorist security measures.
  • Operators are responsible for the day to day delivery of security which includes amongst other measures the liability of vehicles, passengers, baggage and freight to be screened.
  • The department’s compliance officers ensure that the statutory security arrangements in place meet the statutory requirements and standards by regular monitoring and testing.
  • Security measures are closely tailored to the risk taking account of the threat as assessed by the government’s security advisors, and the vulnerability of the system.
  • Security in France is the responsibility of the French government, but UK and French government officials meet regularly to ensure that comparability of security arrangements is maintained.

Buses and coaches

  • The department does not regulate the bus and coach sector for security.
  • Following requests for advice from operators in the wake of the July 2005 London bombings, it developed and issued guidance in October 2005 to the industry on best practice for the security of bus and coach operations. It is planned to issue refreshed guidance reflecting developments in the terrorist threat and associated security advice, later this year.
  • The measures are intended to prevent/deter acts of violence against buses and coaches, and to protect staff and passengers without impacting disproportionately on either the travelling public or the industry.
  • The refreshed guidance will offer operators a range of options ranging from basic measures to enhancements that they can draw on at times of heightened concern (eg if there is a bomb threat or the country moves to a higher level of threat).

Channel Tunnel services

Eurotunnel (The Concessionaires)

  • Eurotunnel is the UK/French company, awarded the Concession to be responsible for the management and the security of the Tunnel and the terminals in both the UK and France (Cheriton and Coquelles respectively).
  • The company is also responsible for the security of the shuttle train services which carry road vehicles between the 2 terminals.
  • Eurotunnel operates 2 types of shuttle train services, one for passenger vehicles (including cars, coaches and motor cycles) and the other for lorry-borne freight.
  • A security regime is in place for screening vehicles, whether carrying freight or passengers.
  • The company undertakes all the statutory security activities in the UK but in France some of the functions are undertaken by the Douanes (the French Customs authority), however security arrangements are comparable.

Eurostar International Ltd

  • Eurostar is the only international rail passenger operator running services between London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet and Ashford to Paris and Brussels via Lille.
  • Eurostar is responsible for the security of the trains and the stations it operates from in the UK and ensures that passengers and their baggage are security screened prior to departure.
  • Security measures deployed in France and Belgium are comparable with those in the UK.

Proposed Deutsche Bahn (DB) Passenger Rail Services

  • DB has announced that it will operate services between London and Frankfurt and Amsterdam from December 2015.
  • As owners of the Channel Tunnel the UK and France are working with DB to ensure that comparable security measures to those in the UK, France and Belgium are put in place in Germany and the Netherlands in advance of the service commencing.

International rail freight

  • Rail borne freight is transported through the Channel Tunnel by the freight operator DB Schenker (formerly English, Welsh and Scottish International (EWSI)).
  • Freight from consignors which are registered with the Department for Transport as Security Approved Channel Tunnel Freight Forwarders (SACTFF) including Approved Freight Service Operators (AFSO) who certify the security integrity of their loads and apply seals to the containers and wagons are considered known freight.
  • Freight from all other consignors is considered unknown freight.
  • All freight is subject to security checks on arrival at Department for Transport approved freight terminals - the level of those security checks will vary dependent on whether the freight is known or unknown.

Security of the transport of dangerous goods

  • Measures have been developed for the security of dangerous goods by road and rail.
Published 29 May 2012