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House subcommittee to hold rail-security hearing


Tomorrow, the U.S. House Rail Transportation Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will hold an oversight hearing on railroad security during which railroad officials and Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter will be questioned about the industry’s preparedness for terrorist attacks and other security threats.

The hearing will build upon a recent meeting between Rutter, Amtrak President David Gunn and United Transportation Union International President Paul Thompson, who discussed freight- and passenger-rail security matters, including the difference between rail and airline terminal security.

"Unlike at airports, train passengers do not enter the passenger waiting area in a similar manner and the passenger waiting areas at most train stations cannot be closed off," Thompson said in a prepared statement. "Another problem is that conductors and assistant conductors do not work in close proximity to armed police officers, and the equivalent of armed air marshals do not ride passenger trains, meaning uncooperative or threatening passengers cannot be easily questioned or detained when suspicions are aroused."

During the meeting, Gunn asked Thompson to appoint UTU members to a security committee that would meet regularly with Amtrak officials. UTU Vice President Tony Iannone will coordinate the committee; other members will be appointed this week.

The committee will investigate passenger-rail security concerns and make joint recommendations to the Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FRA and Congress. UTU also is working with freight railroad officials and FRA to improve and implement security plans.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/4/2004