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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Railways Ministry Beefs Up Train Security

The Railways Ministry said Friday that it would spend 500 million rubles ($16.3 million) next year making the nation's sprawling rail network less vulnerable to terrorist attacks like the bombing last week of a commuter train in southern Russia.

"The rail network is one of the most vulnerable and accessible targets for terrorist[s]," Deputy Railways Minister Mikhail Akulov told reporters Friday, two days after two powerful bombs derailed a train near the town of Kislovodsk, killing four and injuring 52.

No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, but law enforcement agencies said Chechen separatists are most likely to blame.

Akulov said a total of eight explosions have occurred on Russian railways this year, but he would not elaborate.

He said that this year the ministry will spend a total of 380 million rubles on improving rail security, including installing video surveillance systems and deploying sniffer dogs at 80 of the nation's largest terminals. In all, security will be improved at 137 terminals, bridges and depots this year, and another 150 facilities next year, he said.

Eventually the ministry plans to introduce airport-style security measures at passenger stations, including metal detectors and baggage screeners. The first to be equipped will be Kazansky Station in Moscow, Akulov said. He also said crews responsible for routinely inspecting railway tracks have been told for the first time to also inspect the embankments on either side of those tracks for possible signs of explosives.

Akulov blamed hooligans and "mentally unstable" people who phone in fake bomb threats for distracting those immediately responsible for railway security, which includes 4,700 policemen and some 80,000 private guards.

He said 432 fake threats had been registered nationwide since January -- 80 percent of which involved Moscow -- and every one was taken seriously. These threats have cost the ministry 100 million rubles this year, prompting it to start installing caller ID systems in an effort to track down the people who make them.

Akulov said, however, that the ministry alone will not be able to protect the rail network from terrorists.

"Only qualitative and joint efforts of all the government bodies can help to resolve the problem," he said.

Even so, the new measures -- and the media's coverage of them -- should help to discourage terrorists, security experts said.