• United States



by Dave Gradijan

Inquiry Blames Communication in London Bombing Response

Jun 06, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The lack of a functioning radio communications system within London’s subway limited the response to the July 7 bombings last year, a new report has concluded.

Emergency workers were forced to run back and forth between trains, platforms and the surface to communicate since no mobile radio communication systems were available in the subway, known as the London Underground or “the tube.”

The four bombs, detonated on a bus and at three Underground locations, killed 56 people and injured more than 700.

Near one of the bombing sites, Russell Square station, a “leaky feeder” two-way antenna system used by train drivers to communicate with their line control managers was damaged in the explosion.

Mobile phones do not work in the subway tunnels. Work on the aging subway system is difficult due to the narrowness of the tunnels.

The authority responsible for the Underground, Transport for London, is investing 2 billion pounds (US$3.7 billion) to install a digital radio system in the tunnels, some of which date to the mid-1800s. The plan spans 20 years.

But the report, produced by the 7 July Review Committee, said the time scale is too long, and an interim system should be identified.

“Digital radio will be crucial in the event of a future emergency on the tube,” it said.

By the end of 2007, London’s police, fire and ambulance authorities are scheduled to complete rolling out an interoperable digital radio system, under the names Airwave and Connect. That system will also work in subway tunnels.

While responding to the bombings, the city’s emergency service relied too heavily on mobile phones, leading to communication problems on jammed networks.

For more on the London Bombings, read Write People into the Plot.

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By Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service (London Bureau)