The federal government will test this spring ways to screen rail passengers and their luggage, the Associated Press reports. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge discussed ideas to improve rail security yesterday. The test would take place at an unspecified Amtrak station. Ridge stressed that airport-like checkpoints will not be set up because mass transit systems and railroads require easy access.
Congress also is discussing railway security. The Senate Commerce Committee scheduled a hearing today on what can be done to protect railroads from attacks like the Mar. 11 bombings in Madrid that killed more than 200 and injured 1,800.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, would increase penalties for attacking mass transit and passenger rail systems. Delaware Sens. Joseph Biden and Thomas Carper want to spend more than $1 billion for such security measures as police patrols, lighting, fencing, and closed-circuit television. The two also want to pay for securing tunnels along the heavily traveled Washington-Boston route.