This was just an exercise, or would have been a headline horror:The scenario was a passenger train colliding with a fuel and toxic gas carrier, causing a chemical explosion near people’s homes. Five countries’ emergency services have been taking part in operation Euratech 2005, in the French Drome region, south of Lyon on the Paris-Marseille rail axis. European Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini was there as an observer. “Europe needs to be able to respond swiftly to reinforce the principle of solidarity,” he told EuoNews. “Member states cannot always cope, and this simulation shows that, in tandem with a national effort, European intervention can help, can make the difference. It shows solidarity works well.” Hundreds of personnel were involved — French, German, Belgian, Italian and Czech in refining European plans on how to respond in case of the real thing. A seminar on civil protection emergency response will be held this Thursday in Valence when the disaster rehearsal winds down.