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Proposed bill would provide $4.5 billion for rail security


Yet another rail security act has been introduced in congress. Last week, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) unveiled the Rail Transit Safety and Security Act of 2004 (H.R 4476).

The bill would provide $4.5 billion over five years to improve nationwide rail security, including funds for training, safety and communications systems, tunnel and perimeter protection systems, surveillance equipment and public awareness campaigns.

"If we want to make a real difference on rail security, our local and regional transit authorities need information, coordination and most of all, resources," said Lynch, a member of the House subcommittee on national security, international relations and emerging threats, in a prepared statement.

The bill would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct a vulnerability assessment of rail systems, and provide recommendations for improvements. The legislation also would include funds to establish eight regional federal rail security managers to serve as a point of contact to share threat information and work with local officials to implement security plans using rail security best practices.

In addition, H.R. 4476 would provide $2.5 billion to help fund tunnel and perimeter protection systems, explosives detection systems, surveillance and communications equipment, evacuation improvements, and emergency response equipment; $1.35 billion to help fund training exercises, drills, public awareness campaigns and canine patrols; $640 million to improve Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor tunnels, including better lighting, communications equipment, fire safety, passenger egress and ventilation; and $50 million to develop new rail security techniques and equipment.

Meanwhile, congressmen continue to consider several other security bills. The Rail Security Act of 2004 (S. 2273) would provide $1.2 billion for passenger and freight railroads to complete rail security upgrades and require DHS to conduct vulnerability assessments of the country’s rail infrastructure. The Rail Transportation Security Act (S. 2216) also would require DHS to conduct a risk assessment of rail security threats, and devise steps railroads can take to protect infrastructure, facilities, tunnels and bridges. The bill would provide $515 million in 2005 to provide grants for freight and passenger roads to implement the department’s recommendations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/14/2004