Transport police to be armed to counter terror threat
Armed teams of British Transport Police (BTP) are to start patrolling the railways and London Underground to counter terrorism.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said they would be "deployed as appropriate in response to the terrorism threat level at any given time".
Armed police from other forces already patrol stations and trains.
Mr Hammond said the news was not a result of any specific threat and would "enhance" police operations.
In a Commons statement on Tuesday, Mr Hammond said by training BTP officers to carry out armed patrolling of the rail network it "equipped them with a capability already available to other forces".
'Protecting the public'
He said it would not be a daily event to see weapons at stations and they would be deployed "according to operational need".
"The government has been considering the resilience of the overall police armed capability and has concluded that it would be beneficial to enhance this by providing the BTP with an armed capability of its own.
"The timing of this is not as a result of any specific threat, it is a sensible and pragmatic approach to ensuring that our police forces have the right resources to be able to respond as and when needed to protect the public," he said.
BTP Chief Constable Andy Trotter said: "I welcome the decision for British Transport Police to have armed officers at mainline stations during times of heightened threat of terrorist attack.
"BTP officers have an excellent working knowledge of the railway which will enable them to respond quickly to any incidents."
Mr Hammond told the Commons his department would continue continue to work with the BTP and others to assess its effectiveness and impact.
Armed officers are expected to be deployed mainly in London and will be focused primarily on the busy transport hubs.
Out of London, the BTP will liaise with local police forces to ensure co-operation in advance of any deployment.