The Gare du Nord train station in Paris on Sunday began using security gates and baggage scanners for passengers taking the Thalys high-speed rail system serving Belgium and the Netherlands, SNCF chief Guillaume Pepy said.
The Thalys station in the northern city of Lille has also started using them, Pepy told French television.
The decision to install airport-style security gates was prompted by the November 13 Paris attacks that claimed 130 lives.
There was also a failed attack in August on a Thalys train linking Amsterdam and Paris.
“We think that since France is a pioneer on the Thalys, other countries will think about it themselves and probably take the same decision,” Pepy said.
Asked about Ecology Minister Segolene Royal’s proposal to install security gates for all French train services, Pepy said: “At the present time, the decision has not yet been made. Give us time to experiment.”
“The metal detectors are not a panacea… I don’t believe in a miracle solution. Today we have three security nets: human presence, new technology, and everyone’s vigilance.”
Pepy said that the idea of “conducting patrols in the trains, armed and in plainclothes” was under consideration, as well as a “sniffer machine for suspect packages.”
SNCF’s annual security budget is 500 million euros ($545 million), he added.
Responding to a question, Pepy did not rule out a tax of between 50 cents and one euro on train tickets to put towards the costs of security.
“It’s done in the aviation industry,” he said.