Security in the rail sector goes far beyond simply securing doors in railway stations. There are numerous applications along the track that require security solutions to ensure that secure and safe access is always provided for different staff and contractors. This presents a difficult and unique challenge.

The rail sector requires security over a large area, with various control centres, overhead gantries and crossings all in need of locking solutions.

The general requirement is for security padlocks and cylinders, helping to protect the UK’s transport network from terrorist attacks and safeguarding valuable trackside equipment from thieves and vandals.

However, with the arrival of new technological innovations there is more that can be done in the industry.

Master key systems

Ageing mechanical master key systems not covered by patent protection are open to being compromised through unauthorised key duplication. The lack of flexibility in existing traditional mechanical master key systems makes it difficult to accommodate new requirements, and meet the continuous change needed within the rail network to keep all rail personnel and passengers safe and secure.

The need to provide a high quality and safe service to all rail customers is essential for any railway service, so keeping vandalism to a minimum and reducing any chance of disruption to passengers is vital.

It is crucial that only the correctly qualified rail personnel are allowed entry into critical network compartments and secure equipment housing, and always without delay. This demands that the various rail personnel are always provided with the correct level of key.

At present the most efficient, safe and secure way to manage this requirement is through traditional master key systems. While this does provide each rail worker with the correct level of key access to enable them to carry out their daily tasks, it may not always provide the flexibility needed to meet the ever changing demands of the modern railway.

There will be occasions when a key worker needs access to crucial equipment spaces for which they may not have permanent access rights, and delay is not acceptable.

With new electro-mechanical key systems this solution provides the correct level of access both safely and securely on a temporary basis or if needs be, on a permanent basis.

Electro-mechanical solutions

The Abloy electro-mechanical locking solution uses a web-based technology offering rail service providers an enhanced and flexible security capability, combining both convenience and versatility.

By integrating Abloy traditional mechanical keys with new Abloy CLIQ electronic keys, rail operators can have greater control over who has access, and at what time, into their equipment cabinets and compartments.

Abloy UK launched the CLIQ Remote system to the rail industry in 2011 and it has received a great deal of interest.

CLIQ Remote uses web-based software that allows rail engineers, and their contractors, to have their electromechanical keys remotely authorised for use in specific operational areas within the existing Abloy Protec masterkey system for a pre-determined period of time. This ensures a high level of key control with maximum flexibility to ensure access in the event of an emergency to nominated key holders. CLIQ Remote provides comprehensive audit trails and the ability to remove lost or stolen keys from the system, thereby providing tight key management at all times.

This technology is based on highly miniaturised data encryption electronics, which are embedded directly inside the key and cylinder. The key contains a unique electronic ID code that cannot be duplicated, altered or corrupted. This complete electronic security management can even grant variable access rights for personnel visiting remote, secure locations.

Incorporating padlocks

For the rail industry, padlocks are an integral part of security and the CLIQ Remote variant carries an IP57 water rating as well as conforming to BS EN 1303, which classifies cylinders for locks using an eight digit coding system.

Padlocks can be incorporated into a patent protected masterkey system or even be part of an electromechanical solution. They are are available in open, closed and long shackle designs providing various levels of security to suit individual applications. Some variants achieve the highest security grade of BS EN 12320:2001, accompanied by the highest grade of corrosion resistance as per BS EN 12320:2001.

Open shackle padlocks are more traditional in shape and are most widely used, while the long shackle models are employed for applications where space is a consideration and other padlocks aren’t practical. Finally, there are closed shackle padlocks which offer increased security, with the padlock housing extending up the shackle, providing additional protection against bolt cutter and saw attacks.

New patented mechanism

Abloy also offers a new PROTEC2 locking solution, the latest development of the unique Abloy rotating disc cylinder keying system.

Specially designed to provide the highest level of security for the most sensitive areas, PROTEC2 offers a patented disc controller structure that requires a moving element in the key.

PROTEC2 also possesses key and key blank patent protection to stop systems becoming compromised through the unauthorised duplication of keys. The patent, which lasts until 2031, is one of the longest in the industry and covers the entire range.

Security challenges overcome

Using 21st century solutions to secure the rail industry means that all of the challenges that have traditionally affected the sector can be circumvented.

Whether it be switching to an electro-mechanical solution that uses web software or installing a patent protected masterkey system, there are now effective ways of maintaining a reliable, yet versatile security system that helps a service run smoothly, while protecting valuable trackside assets.

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