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Rail industry steps up security measures to tackle terrorism, AAR says


In the wake of airline industry security breakdowns that enabled terrorists to carry out the attacks of Sept. 11, the railroad industry reacted quickly, tightening security, restricting access to major facilities and intensifying inspections.
That's the message Association of American Railroads President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger offered Oct 2 in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine, which held a hearing to gauge the nation's transportation system security level.
And the industry is doing even more to better deal with global terrorist threats. Various industry officials daily contact the National Security Council through the Department of Transportation's intelligence office, and AAR hired foreign intelligence and Department of Defense experts to help assess operational and informational security.
Five working groups also were formed to assess the industry's security as it pertains to physical assets, such as bridges, tunnels, control and dispatching centers; military operations that might need to use critical lines for defense purposes; information technology and communications; operations; and hazardous material moves.
"Each critical action team is assessing the short-term and long-term vulnerabilities in the areas of people, process and technology, and developing an array of countermeasures," said Hamberger, according to a prepared statement. "Not withstanding all of our efforts, experts will tell you there is no 100 percent guarantee against terrorist assaults."
AAR also is in the process of establishing a system similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Infrastructure Protection Center, which provides early warnings on national security threats, and information sharing for computer crimes and infrastructure protection. The rail industry's Information Sharing and Analysis Center would enable railroads to share data pertaining to cyber threats or terrorism, and coordinate responses.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/3/2001