Amtrak security tightens amid new threats to system

Local transit leaders are taking a closer look at threats against the nation’s rail system.

Amtrak’s police chief told a Senate committee Tuesday the system expanded its efforts to keep passengers safe. But he pointed out Amtrak would remain a ‘clear and open’ service.

As part of the changes, the rail system will step up patrols as well as expand high-security fencing, blast curtains and other technology created to protect bridges and tunnels. Laser technology for tracks and upgraded surveillance systems are also part of the toolbox.

"Training our employees in how to spot suspicious behavior and activity and also layering in random screening of bags, canines, both in the stations and on board the trains,” was part of the security efforts, said John O’Conner, chief of the Amtrak police.

The added security measures are already visible at D.C.’s Union Station. Rider Michael Officer has noticed more dogs and more frequent spot checks.

This comes after an incident in Iowa on Sunday, in which someone tampered with a 130-car train near Des Moines that was carrying highly flammable ethanol. The FBI is investigating the incident. It appears a switch box was tampered with, and a two-inch gap was found in the tracks.

Documents found in Osama bin Laden’s compound revealed threats against America’s rail system.

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