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Terrorism not an imminent threat to TIH-carrying trains, rail security study says


A terrorist attack on a freight train carrying highly hazardous chemicals isn’t as grave a threat as many assert. That’s the conclusion of a recent rail cargo security study conducted by Toffler Associates.

The firm conducted research and interviewed homeland security, counter-terrorism and other officials to analyze the potential of attacks against trains carrying Toxic Inhalation Hazards (TIH). Entitled “Creating A Secure Future: Understanding and Addressing the Threat to TIH Rail Cargoes,” the study was sponsored by rail industry interests.

“Since September 11, 2001, many have suggested the rail industry, federal government, local communities and others should take a range of actions” in response to a potential terrorist attack on a TIH-carrying train, the study states. “Well-meaning concern about the potential consequences of such an attack is obscuring some important facts about the threat and painting a picture of the threat that we believe does not conform to reality.”

The complexity of the freight-rail system and certain attributes of freight-rail operations “make successful attacks against TIH rail cargos considerably less of a risk than some observers believe,” the study concludes. And few terrorist organizations possess the necessary capabilities to successfully mount such attacks, according to Toffler Associates.

The study suggests the rail industry, government and other stakeholders work together to “think and act strategically, commensurate with the multi-dimensional realities of the threat,” take better advantage of defenses already inherent in rail operations and manage the effects of an attack on a TIH-carrying train if a terrorist act occurs.

“The threat of an attack on a TIH rail car is real — and government and the industry have a responsibility to reduce that threat,” according to Toffler Associates. “But we face many threats in the war on terrorism and the ways we are at risk is growing all the time.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/6/2007