Tyne & Wear

Newcastle engineers research bomb-proof train carriages

Train carriages could be bomb-proofed to prevent a repeat of the carnage left by the London Underground terrorist attacks, researchers have found.

Newcastle University engineers have developed blast-resilient rolling stock after drawing on lessons learned from the 7 July, 2005 suicide bombings.

Methods include plastic-coated windows, energy-absorbing materials and tying down heavy objects and ceiling panels.

A university spokesman said blast-proofing was "cost-effective".

The team, from the university's School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, now hopes to offer advice to the rail industry on how to protect passengers.

Experts focused on two main areas - containing the blast impact and reducing debris which maims and kills.

Their research involved carrying out a controlled explosion on a decommissioned Tube carriage.

'Flying objects'

A similar test was carried out on a prototype carriage specially built to reduce the damage caused by a bomb going off inside.

Lead researcher Conor O'Neill: "Preventing flying objects is the key.

"Tethering ceiling panels reduced the risk of fatalities and injury from flying shrapnel and also meant the gangways were kept relatively clear of debris.

"The window coating we developed was also incredibly effective. Without it the windows are blown outwards - putting anyone outside, such as those standing on a platform, at risk from flying glass."

The engineers also investigated dividing carriages with materials that soak up energy and reduce the impact of a blast wave.

Mr O'Neil added: "Completely replacing existing vehicles just isn't an option.

"What we've shown is that companies could make some relatively cost-effective and simple modifications that would significantly improve the outcome of an attack."

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