Amtrak Expands Rail Security Efforts with Increased Right of Way Protection

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is expanding its comprehensive rail security efforts to provide increased right of way (ROW) protection to detect and deter terrorists seeking to derail passenger trains, testified Amtrak Chief of Police John O’Connor before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Chief O’Connor said threats against rail transportation are very real and “[t]he recent events after the death of bin Laden serve as a stark reminder that these threats continue to be viable.” He stressed the interest of terrorists in derailing trains is of particular concern to Amtrak which “operates high-speed rail trains where catastrophic losses could occur.”

The security countermeasures will provide additional ROW protections for passenger trains, particularly those operating on the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor. They will join existing Amtrak security efforts focusing on threats related to the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a station or on a train, or an active shooter scenario.

Historically, Amtrak has used a range of security strategies such as high security fencing, bollards, blast curtains, access control and technologically driven initiatives to protect stations, bridges and tunnels. Amtrak is exploring the expanded use of these strategies for ROW protection.

Since the U.S. raid on the bin Laden compound, Amtrak has bolstered current security actions, expanded ROW patrols in collaboration with other federal, state and local partners, and met with officials from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to evaluate next steps based on the intelligence gathered. Amtrak also is reinforcing employee awareness programs, particularly with personnel from its Engineering and Mechanical departments, to encourage
vigilance and the reporting of unusual occurrences on the ROW.