The French government on Monday announced a series of measures to beef up security on public transport following a
thwarted attack on a high-speed train between Amsterdam and Paris.
A bill on the proposed measures is to be debated in the French parliament next month with the government hoping that the new measures will be adopted by early next year.
In order to fight more effectively against “terrorist acts” and “serious attacks on public security”, rail security guards could be permitted to search bags or conduct “security pat-downs”, said a statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Transport Minister Alain Vidalies.
Luggage searches would only be undertaken with the passenger's consent, but in the event of a refusal, the passenger could be prevented from travelling.
“If they refuse to be searched then they will be left on the platform in the same way customers in shops are not allowed in if they refuse to be checked,” a source close to the Interior Minister told Le Figaro newspaper.
Under the new legislation, police and gendarmes, who have not so far not been permitted to search passengers luggage, could be given the same powers.
Rail security officials could also operate under cover.
The new measures have been drawn up following a foiled attack by a heavily-armed gunman on a packed high-speed train in September.
The attack was blocked by several quick-thinking passengers, among them two off-duty US servicemen, who prevented what officials said would otherwise have turned into a massacre.