Russian intelligence or “ordinary idiots”? An expert assesses who paralyzes Polish trains

Russian intelligence or "ordinary idiots"?  An expert assesses who paralyzes Polish trains

The weekend train paralysis shocked Poles and we are still waiting for the answer to the most important question – is it a diversion or ridiculous antics? Railway market specialist Adrian Furgalski considers both variants and explains the problems of the radio stop system.

Last weekend was marked by unannounced delays and mysterious train stops in many Polish cities. On the one hand, there were suspicions of a hacker attack and even sabotage by Russian intelligence. Others, however, reassured that the so-called The radio stop signal has been known and abused by civilians and pranksters for many years.

Where lies the truth? We asked Adrian Furgalski, a specialist in the Polish railway market and president of the TOR Economic Advisory Team, to assess the events of recent days.

Radio stop signal – who is behind stopping trains in Poland?

As we wrote in, current information does not indicate that there was a hacker attack on the computer infrastructure of Polish railways. Trains were stopped using the radio-stop method. This is a special security system that allows you to remotely disable specific railway systems using radio signals. He may, among other things, emergency stop trains in a given area.

As the expert argues, incorrect use of start-stop happens quite often in Poland and it is not a new problem.

– Unlawful use of a radio stop has always occurred because the analog communication system is very easy to attack with a radio telephone, with the skills related to mastering the frequencies on which the railway operates. You can read about how to do this on internet forums. I hope that now the Internal Security Agency will move and start examining these forums – Adrian Furgalski tells us.

Abuse of the system has been going on for years and existed even before Russia invaded Ukraine. As our interlocutor mentions, in 2020, as many as 537 cases of unauthorized use of radio stops were reported. The following year there were 557 cases. In 2022, this number was 482.

– (Then) they were not Putin’s envoys, but ordinary idiots. Usually bored shitheads or guests after a few deep drinks – says the president of ZDG TOR. He adds that this offense is treated quite amicably. Penalties for such an offense – up to 8 years in prison – are often suspended, and the courts decide on only symbolic compensation for the railways for the traffic paralysis caused.

Interestingly, according to unofficial information from RMF FM published on Monday afternoon, the two people detained in connection with the incident in Białystok are a 29-year-old policeman and a 24-year-old from the Skierniewice district. The younger man was allegedly drunk at the time of the arrest.

Russian diversion of Polish trains? We have to wait for the facts

Although there are many indications that the weekend paralysis may be the result of Poles’ antics, an alternative explanation cannot be fully ruled out at this time. The Internal Security Agency has already made the first arrests, but we do not yet know the official version of events.

– I didn’t catch the guys from Białystok, so I don’t know. However, I know that there is a war in Ukraine. And Poland is of key importance when it comes to the logistics of arms deliveries, which are carried out by rail, Furgalski points out. The expert also reminds that officers recently detained 16 people suspected of collaborating with the Russian GRU and even planning a railway sabotage in the Podkarpackie Voivodeship.

– The Internal Security Agency has already detained people planning to derail trains near Rzeszów. We now have to work on securing critical infrastructure not 100%, but 150%. standards – our interlocutor emphasizes.

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