TSA Begins Second Phase of Rail Security Experiment

WASHINGTON – Starting today (June 7, 2004), Amtrak passengers boarding long-distance trains at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station will have their checked luggage screened for explosives.

The screening is the second stage of a pilot program exploring new measures for rail security, the Department of Homeland Security announced. The test phase of the screening will last until June 30.

“The second phase of the TRIP project will build on the rail security passenger test and focus on screening of baggage and rail cargo,” said Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at DHS. “This is another step in the process of improving security for the millions of Americans who travel by rail everyday.”

The goal of the Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP) – Phase II is to evaluate the use of emerging technologies in a rail environment to screen checked and unclaimed baggage, as well as temporarily stored personal items and cargo for explosives, DHS said.

Screeners from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct the inspections. Checked baggage bound for Amtrak long-distance trains at Union Station, along with unclaimed and stored personal items and cargo will be screened from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday throughout the one month Phase II of the pilot program.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm of passengers and the hard work of the screeners and staff that made Phase I a success,” said Rear Adm. David M. Stone (ret. US Navy), TSA’s Acting-Administrator. “We learned a great deal about this technology and its impact on the traveler and will use these lessons to further improve rail security.”

TRIP Phase II is expected to yield important data on the effectiveness of screening equipment in a non-climate controlled environment, cost, and impact on Amtrak operations. This knowledge will aid in prototyping a cargo-screening model that could be applicable to other modes of transportation.

TSA is urging all passengers who check baggage at Union Station to ensure that photographic equipment (including unprocessed film), computers, software, VCRs as well as valuables be removed from their checked baggage prior to submitting the baggage for screening. TSA also recommends that all luggage be left unlocked so that bags can be opened in the event further inspection is needed.

Phase I of TRIP was completed at the end of May and consisted of screening of passengers and their carry-on baggage for explosives at the Amtrak/MARC rail station at New Carrollton, Md.

— U.S. Newswire