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Department of Homeland Security outlines new transit security initiatives


With the recent passenger-train bombings in Madrid, Spain, serving as a transit security wake-up call around the world, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is answering the bell. Yesterday, the department introduced several initiatives designed to reduce passenger-rail vulnerabilities and increase security awareness.

Building on security measures recommended during the past two years by the department, and Federal Transit and Railroad administrations, DHS recently developed the initiatives, which include:
• a Mass Transit K-9 Program under which DHS will deploy mobile response teams using dogs currently trained to check for explosives, and partner with local authorities to provide additional cross-training and assistance for local K-9 teams;
• a Transit Inspection Pilot program under which DHS will test the feasibility of screening luggage and carry-on bags for explosives at rail stations and onboard trains in conjunction with Amtrak and FRA; and
• education and awareness programs under which DHS will work with state and local rail and transit authorities, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to integrate existing passenger and rail education and awareness programs, and create new programs to increase passenger, rail employee, and local law enforcement awareness.

"The department has been working with the Department of Transportation and other partners in the public and private sector to significantly upgrade rail and transit security over the past two years," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in a prepared statement. "Now, we are adding several new layers of security that we believe will help reduce vulnerabilities to our systems and make commuters and transit riders more secure aboard our nation's trains and subways."

DHS' science and technology division also is developing a number of homeland security technologies, such as biological and high explosives countermeasures. The division expects to create and test field equipment, technologies and procedures to intercept suicide bombers, and car and truck bombs before they reach an intended target.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/23/2004