Anti-blast bins begin appearing in Prague metro stations over eight years after 9/11

Photo: CTK

All of the rubbish bins in Prague’s metro stations were removed for security reasons in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Now, over eight years later, they are slowly making a comeback, after Prague’s authorities decided to invest in high tech bomb-resistant bins for the city’s underground rail system.

After the 9/11 attacks on the US, the rubbish bins that served passengers on the platforms and in the vestibules of Prague’s metro system were all removed. The fear was that they could be used to plant explosives if terrorists ever attacked the Czech capital.

Photo: CTK
Unsurprisingly the removal of the bins led to increased cleaning costs, and not only in the actual stations themselves; more rubbish also found its way into the tunnels of the city’s underground rail system.

A couple of years ago, litter blowing about disrupted tests of a sensor system at Dejvická station aimed at speeding up reaction to a person or animal falling on the tracks. For that reason, metals frame bins with clear bags were introduced there. However, they were regarded as an insufficient solution and the Town Hall decided to earmark funding for special “anti-terrorist” bins for the whole network.

The round bins, which each weigh about half a tonne, contain two steel walls. The first is intended to slow the blast of an explosion, while the second, inner casing is meant to halt it altogether. This means that any debris would only fly straight upwards, significantly reducing the potential damage a bomb could do.

The Prague Public Transport Co. has purchased 90 of these special bins from a firm in Israel at a cost of CZK 90,000 (close to USD 5,000) each. These are being gradually rolled out this month, with half to be installed in stations on the C or red line. Relatively busy stations and ones where metro lines meet and end have been given priority.

Prague metro,  photo: archive of Radio Prague International
The bomb-resistant bins are not the metro system’s only counter-terrorism measure. The Czech News Agency reported that an anti-chemical system was being installed at three of Prague’s busiest stations. Currently in a trial phase, it is capable of detecting even tiny amounts of dangerous chemicals. In that eventuality, a signal is immediately sent to alert the city’s fire service and police.

However, the vigilance of metro station staff is still regarded as its strongest weapon against terrorism; it is their job to watch out for unattended packages.