First Major U.S., U.K. Exchange of Railroad Security and Counterterrorism Practices

WASHINGTON — Members of the Amtrak Police Department (APD), Amtrak Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations (OSSSO) and British Transport Police (BTP) this week will jointly patrol several train stations along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor as part of the first major U.S. & U.K. exchange of railroad security and counterterrorism practices.

The BTP visit is designed to solidify a security partnership between Amtrak and U.K. rail police, by sharing lessons learned and best-policing methods and practices to protect rail passengers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Beginning today in Washington Union Station, several uniformed BTP Sergeants, Constables and the Superintendent will witness first hand Amtrak’s security operations onboard trains and at train stations. The security operations will be conducted by police and tactical forces, counter surveillance personnel, and K-9 detection units. Throughout the week, British rail officials will observe similar activities at Philadelphia 30th Street Station, Baltimore Penn Station, and New York Penn Station.

BTP is the specialist national police service for Britain’s railways. According to the BTP, members have handled all types of crime in its 180 year history, and have continually developed expertise in areas such as policing, counterterrorism and major incident handling.

Amtrak Chief Operating Officer William Crosbie said, “The rail community continues to be a target worldwide, and protecting passengers from harm is paramount. If one member of the community is targeted, we all feel the effects one way or another. By sharing best police practices and lessons learned with our British counterparts and others, we can build a safer and more secure rail environment for riders internationally.”

Over the past few years, terrorist attacks, attempts and plots around the globe have specifically targeted rail and mass transit. The security implications of these activities have spurred the formation of a strong coalition of transportation and law enforcement agencies around the world.

Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor said the parties agreed to the cross-Atlantic exchange after attending international counterterrorism rail safety conferences last year.

“During those interactions, it was determined that each organization had unique and different police practices and could learn a great deal from one another,” O’Connor said. “Without question, seeing first hand how particular security-related operations are carried out significantly enhances counterterrorism and major incident response capabilities and saves lives.”

British Transport Police Superintendent Phil Trendall said, “This trip represents a major opportunity for our two organizations to work and learn from each other. We share a determination to protect the traveling public from the threat of terrorism and this gives us a chance to share best practices. The message is clear: we are strengthened by our partnership and we look forward to working together in the months and years ahead.”

After conducting security operations at Washington Union Station on Monday, March 2, Amtrak and BTP rail security officials will conduct similar operations on Tuesday, March 3 from 9-11 a.m. at Philadelphia 30th Street Station, and from 4 -5 p.m. at Baltimore Penn Station. On Thursday, March 5 the group will conduct similar activities from 9-11 a.m. at New York Penn Station.

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