There are dozens of high speed train lines in the EU, but as far as I know only the Eurostar train is the only one which requires passengers to go through an X-ray machine to board the train. One may argue that the Channel Tunnel is the rationale for the extra checks, but aren't there dozens of other train tunnels around Europe?

References to authoritative sources are appreciated.

  • Do any of the other tunnels cross a non-Schengen border? – cpast Jul 29 '18 at 1:38
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    Are they particularly heightened compared to AVE trains in Spain? Eurostar has a metal detector in addition to the x-ray machine for bags, while AVE just has the bag scan, but the situation is fairly similar overall. – Zach Lipton Jul 29 '18 at 1:43
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    @ZachLipton not sure about AVE but TGV trains leaving from the same station as the Eurostar don't have any extra checks – JonathanReez Jul 29 '18 at 1:47
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    If I may speculate, a long tunnel (which would make an explosion in the middle of it more disatrous) plus being a well-known high-prestige target. – DJClayworth Jul 29 '18 at 2:45
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    @DJClayworth, but that doesn't really make sense as cars travelling in Shuttles through the same tunnel do not get similar scans. – Mark Perryman Jul 29 '18 at 8:12

I asked the UK Department for Transport essentially this question earlier this year and got the following response:

The DfT is responsible for regulating transport operators to undertake security measures aimed at protecting passengers, the mode of travel and associated infrastructure from acts of violence, including terrorism. For international rail travel, statutory powers are provided by the Channel Tunnel (Security) Order 1994.

The Government takes the security of the Channel Tunnel and the protection of all those travelling and working within that network very seriously. The security measures that are in place are designed to protect the travelling public and the Channel Tunnel from unlawful interference and possible attack.

Responsibility for the security of the Channel Tunnel is split between the UK and France. Trains and shuttles travelling from the UK to France are the responsibility of the UK, and the DfT sets the security measures that both Eurostar and Eurotunnel must undertake. We continuously monitor the effectiveness of security measures with the aim of improving our controls, taking account of new and emerging threats. This is done through commissioning research projects and acting upon recommendations.

Trains and shuttles travelling from France to the UK are the responsibility of France and security measures are undertaken by the French Customs authority, the Douane. We work closely with French authorities to ensure the comparability of security measures deployed at both stations and terminals

The protective security regime in place is based on the assessed threat level in both the UK and France, and is designed to be proportionate in mitigating the security threat to the Channel Tunnel, whilst causing the minimum inconvenience to passengers.

Therefore, it would be inappropriate to be specific about the measures currently in place. However, it is worth emphasising that not all our security measures are visible. Every passenger, regardless of whether they are travelling from France or the UK, has an equal chance of selection for screening, which gives the regime a deterrence value.

I hope this helpful, assuring you that the Department takes the security and safety of the travelling public seriously.

My hypothesis for the real reason is that when the relevant laws were passed, they were following an 'airport style' security model and not a 'train style' model. As they are encoded in law with responsibility split between UK and France changing it will be a hassle and there is no political will to do so.

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    Which despite its length manages to fail to answer the question in a classic example of civil service speak. (But +1 to you, it's not your text.) – mdewey Jul 29 '18 at 9:20
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    @mdewey that's not quite fair: it clarifies that it's not Eurostar's own choice, for example, and reinforces the OP's hypothesis that the answer is 'because Channel Tunnel'. – nekomatic Oct 11 '18 at 14:35

While the Eurostar trains have a more strict security system than most of the trains in Europe, it is not the only one with security checks. The Thalys trains from France have extra checks, including a luggage scanner and a metal detector (as far as I can recognize the machines when passing through the system.)

Paris was attacked a few times in a short span and the powers that be decided that extra measures were needed.

So while most trains in Europe are not deemed to be under high risk of attack some are, and there are more trains with security measures and with the platforms of other Thalys stations changed for the Eurostar security, I would not be surprised to see the Thalys measures rolled out wider as well.

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