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Subcommittee on Railroads Hearing on Railroad Security

05-05-2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PURPOSE

BACKGROUND

WITNESSES


PURPOSE

This hearing will examine current issues of preparedness, processes, and resources affecting security of rail transport-freight, intercity passenger, and commuter.

BACKGROUND

Railroad security has become the focus of increased attention in the post-9/11 era, especially after the recent bomb detonations in a Madrid commuter rail station. Passenger rail operations include intercity operations (principally Amtrak) and short-haul commuter operations (such as the Long Island Rail Road in New York and Sound Transit in the Seattle area). Both forms of rail passenger service involve a substantial degree of "walk-on" or unreserved travel, and in most cases do not have controlled departure access or a passenger manifest comparable to the regime for commercial aviation.

Freight rail operations involve a substantial amount of cargo container traffic, usually originating at major ports of entry for foreign trade, as well as large quantities of various hazardous materials, e.g., various petroleum products and chlorine. Railroad tracks-whether used for freight or passenger service, or both-are necessarily exposed to many miles of ready access and line-of-sight available to someone seeking to do harm either to a train or to the infrastructure (track, signals, bridges, tunnels, etc.). Some aspects of rail security involve intermodal connections, e.g., the transfer of cargo containers between or among ocean, rail, and motor transport. Thus, freight railroads are directly affected by proposed changes in access and credential requirements at port facilities and other points of traffic interchange between rail and other forms of transport.

Unlike other modes of transport, the infrastructure used by trains is privately owned in almost all cases by a railroad, usually the sole or principal user of that same infrastructure. The most notable exceptions to congruent ownership and operations are Amtrak (outside the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor) and many commuter rail operations, which operate on tracks owned by one or more freight railroads or, in the Northeast Corridor, by Amtrak.

Larger rail carriers (including Amtrak) maintain their own company-funded police forces. By federal statute, officers in these forces may also exercise law enforcement powers in any jurisdiction in which their employing railroad operates [49 U.S.C. 28101].

Federal statutes relating to acts of sabotage or destruction against railroads have accreted over many decades. Some have been enacted as part of the regulatory regime for transportation (e.g., 49 U.S.C. 20138, prohibiting willful tampering with railroad safety devices), others as part of the federal criminal code (Title 18, United States Code). Identical legislation to modernize some of the rail-related provisions of Title 18 was recently introduced in both the House and the Senate (H.R. 4143 and S. 2289). The Senate Commerce Committee recently approved S. 2216, which would require a variety of risk assessments and studies of various aspects of rail security, as well as authorizing $515 million in railroad security improvement grants and $777 million in FY 2005 funds for Amtrak security improvements.

WITNESSES

PANEL I

Hon. Allan Rutter
Administrator
Federal Railroad Administration

Mr. Chet Lunner
Assistant Administrator
Office of Maritime and Land Security
Transportation Security Administration
Department of Homeland Security

PANEL II

Mr. Ed Hamberger
President
Association of American Railroads

Mr. Ernest R. Frazier, Sr., Esq.
Chief of Police and Security Department
Amtrak

Mr. Dan Duff
Chief Counsel and Vice President of Government
American Public Transportation Association

Mr. Ed Wytkind
President
Transportation Trades Department
AFL-CIO

PANEL III

Mr. James Dermody
President
Long Island Rail Road

Mr. Rick Tidwell
Deputy Executive Director
Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation