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WMATA tightens security following Madrid terrorist attacks


It’s only been a week since bombs exploded on 10 Madrid, Spain, commuter trains, killing and injuring hundreds of people, but transit officials in the U.S. capital aren’t wasting any time making their system more secure.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) plans to purchase $180,000 worth of additional security equipment and technology, to better detect, respond to and recover from potential security threats.

WMATA expects to buy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) equipment, including a special radio frequency for the WMATA Transit Police Department’s EOD robot; an external surveillance camera for the EOD on-scene command vehicle; a special computer monitor for the truck’s surveillance camera; two portable X-ray kits and film; an explosive storage magazine to store explosive-laden packages; six sets of ballistic helmets and shields; four fiber-optic snake cameras; six EOD unit suits and vests; a police radio with interagency digital/analog communication capability; and two chemical weapons identifiers.

During the past week, WMATA police have enhanced security by increasing the frequency of station patrols by its special response teams, the number of police officers patrolling during rush hour and public address announcements to customers. The department also added train-to-train and car-to-car patrols, and reinforced security and safety programs with employees.

And starting today, WMATA station restrooms no longer will be available for public use when the national alert level is at Orange or above; WMATA or a federal agency are concerned about a specific threat to rail systems; or domestic or international terrorist attacks warrant increased security.

"Some of the enhanced security is visible to our customers and … much is not, and that’s exactly the way it is designed to be," said Metro Transit Police Chief Polly Hanson in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/19/2004