Rail Security Rules Issued; Money Shortage Cited

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued its first anti-terror directive for commuter rail and subway systems yesterday, calling for checks of unattended bags, bombproof trash receptacles, and the use of explosive-sniffing dogs, says the Washington Post. The regulations are to go into effect on Sunday, but operators said they had not been issued copies. Some in the industry questioned whether the transit systems have enough money to fully comply. “Millions of Americans travel by rail every day, and recent world events highlight the need to ensure they are kept safe from acts of terror,” said Asa Hutchinson, the undersecretary for border and transportation security. “These protective measures, along with others already in place, advance our mission to ensure rail passengers are protected.”

Fears about the nation’s rail systems rose after Sept. 11, 2001, and again after the Madrid train bombings in March. The new rules prompted pleas for more money from rail operators, who say that although airlines have received billions in direct assistance for anti-terror measures, the country’s railway systems have been given relatively little. “We simply don’t have the additional funding to address some of these issues,” said Greg Hull, director of operations safety and security for the American Public Transportation Association. “We are fully committed to ensuring security. But as these unfunded mandates are put upon the industry, it certainly raises the question of what happens when systems are unable to come into compliance.” He said that rail operators have received two federal grants for $115 million, while aviation interests have been given $11 billion. Hutchinson noted that state and local governments, which subsidize rail operations, have received billions in homeland security funding.

Link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43690-2004May20.html

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