Risk Assessment Tool for Analysing Terrorist Attack Impact on Metro and Light Rail Systems

Risk Assessment Tool for Analysing Terrorist Attack Impact on Metro and Light Rail Systems


E Matsika, NewRail, Newcastle University, Mark Robinson, NewRail, Newcastle University, Conor O'Neill, Hitachi Europe


Risk assessment tool; critical infrastructure (CI); terrorist attack; mass transit; countermeasures; counter terrorism


The importance of having an overall strategy to protect critical infrastructures (CI) increased in the last ten years, becoming a highly sensitive topic for infrastructure managers and operators. Currently CI managers and operators find difficulties in the definition of risk assessment and particularly recognise the lack of a common understanding and guidance in the selection of countermeasures to protect a CI and to evaluate the cost effectiveness of these choices.

Worldwide, there exists a multitude of risk assessment methodologies for different applications. These are usually tested and validated within a specific sector, organisation, asset or threat or by a particular audience (policy makers, decision makers and operators). This paper presents an analysis of these methodologies for application in rail systems and the development of a Risk Assessment Tool which is being undertaken by the EU-funded project RAMPART. The tool is designed through a merger of existing applicable risk assessment methodologies and focusses on the threat of terrorist attacks on CI assets within metro and light rail systems.
The RAMPART Tool approach has specific requirements or specifications aimed at addressing unique goals identified to address the risk of terrorist attacks on metros and light rail (mass transit). The uniqueness of the tool lies in differentiating itself for metro and light rail applications using the following nine factors and parameters: Qualitative vs quantitative approach; Detail (depth of data/information levels disaggregation); Scope (threats/assets/sector covered); Target user group (legislators, management, technocrats); Asset criticality; Subjectivity in the RA process; CI resilience (integrated countermeasures); Interdependences (system and/or sectoral); Common taxonomy/terminology.
The tool determines risk levels for mass transit CIs which can be customised to suit other transport modes. A database of assets exposed to terrorist attacks is built as part of the tool using primary and secondary data. Assets are classified as moveable or non-moveable and are analysed either as an integrated unit or broken down to sub-systems depending on the level of disaggregation required. Potential threats to these assets were identified and categorised, such as explosive devices, arson, sabotage and cyber-attacks. The criticality of each asset is measured by determining the level of impact resulting from a successfully deployed threat on the asset.

While the tool applies the classical equation where risk is a function of threat, vulnerability and impact, its backbone is ML-aNN (Multi-layer artificial neural networks) which:

 Identifies critical scenarios
 Detects interdependencies
 Allows for predicting impact caused by simultaneous attacks
 Is easy to tune and optimise by rail security experts

The RAMPART tool will provide infrastructure managers with vital information to determine the risks posed to the system from terrorist activity and develop scenarios to better understand and react to the impact of an attack. In addition, the tool can advise the decision-making process for countermeasures through assessment of risk and effectiveness of countermeasure technologies.


Association for European Transport