Thursday, February 21, 2008

U.S. announces new security measures for trains

"The next attacks will be on trains."

One month after the 9/11 attacks, I was travelling by train to Toronto and sitting next to someone who worked in the security industry. It was a weekend when there was a warning for more attacks to hit, and Toronto's CN Tower was on the list. The person I was sitting next to was telling me his theories about how what the next target would be... Trains.

Why trains? A lack of security. I considered by own experience... No one screened my luggage and no one even checked my ticket until an hour after the trip was underway. Worse yet... Union Station is right in the middle of downtown Toronto, right next to a popular landmark specifically named in a threat. Now I can laugh about feeling frightened, but it wasn't funny to me at the time.

In the coming months I had expected changes to train security. However, over the last several years, all I saw were notices to the effect of the company having the right to inspect luggage and a warning that unattended luggage would be confiscated. Otherwise, it has been business-as-usual.

Until now-- Amtrak is implementing new security measures, including bomb-sniffing dogs and random luggage checks. According to an article on CNN, there have been very few (if any) changes to train security since 9/11 despite the fact that experts have been warning about vulnerabilities. There have been several articles on the topic in the media this week, and everyone is quick to point out that these measures are not in response to a specific threat.

I wonder how effective these measures will be, or if other rail companies (such as Canada's VIA Rail) will follow suit. The Transportation Security Administration is applauding the new procedures, but I'm reserving judgment until I hear what the critics will say.

No comments: