Amtrak to Launch New Security Procedures ASAP (February 19, 2008)
Amtrak launches new security procedures - random baggage screening conducted by Mobile Security Team , excerpts from the press release on the Amtrak website:
- Amtrak today (February 19, 2008) announced the deployment of its new specialized Amtrak Mobile Security Team to patrol stations and trains and randomly inspect passenger baggage.
- Random baggage inspections have been found to be an effective security tool for deterring individuals who may pose a threat. Since predictable security can be exploited, this random screening and patrols will be unpredictable and will appear at varied times and stations.
- Passengers will have the right to refuse inspection. However, if they do so, they will not be permitted to board the train and will be offered a ticket refund.
The Forbes article "Amtrak to step up security measures" offers some commentarty on the new procedures:
- the new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains
- The initiative is a significant shift for Amtrak. Unlike the airlines, it has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a distinction that has enabled it to attract passengers eager to avoid airport hassles.
- Amtrak officials insist their new procedures won't hold up the flow of passengers.
- passengers will not be required to arrive at stations far in advance, officials said. Passengers who are selected randomly for the screening will be delayed no more than a couple of minutes, Amtrak chief executive Alex Kummant said.
- Concern about Amtrak security has been mounting since the 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid that killed 191 people. Trains also have been bombed in London, Mumbai, and in Russia which has had several bombings on subway, commuter and long-distance trains.
- The new Amtrak security procedures draw heavily on measures being used in the New York City subways accordning to Bill Rooney, Amtrak's vice president for security strategy and special operations. That model has been upheld in court challenges, Rooney noted.
- Amtrak plans to roll out the new 'mobile security teams' first on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, the railroad's most heavily used route, before expanding them to the rest of the country.
- Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. states 'Given that terrorists have chosen passenger rail as one of their targets of choice, provided this doesn't slow things down or require additional longer lines and waits, this plan is certainly worth trying'
- 'There is no new or different specific threat,' Alex Kummant said. 'This is just the correct step to take.'
This had to be done, more security on our trains is neededed. I live in NYC and I see the bag screeners at times when I'm on the subway. I have never been asked to have my bags searched so it hasn't slowed me down but I'm glad they are there. I think any regular commuter can appreciate this action is necessary and will tolerate any potential delays.