Bin Laden fallout: Do US trains need a 'no-ride list'?
Osama bin Laden wanted Al Qaeda to attack US rail transportation on the 9/11 anniversary, according to intelligence taken from his compound. A 'no-ride list' for Amtrak is being considered.
In Pictures High-speed rail worldwide
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Not surprisingly, Mr. LaHood says he felt safe.
But, are the rails really as secure as they can be?
The question is important considering that as part of its treasure trove of intelligence gathered up at Osama bin Laden’s compound, was a plan to try to disrupt rail transportation on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
Considering bin Laden’s interest in rail – including bombings in Europe – some legislators are wondering if Amtrak should emulate airlines with a “no ride list,” that duplicates the “no fly list.” Unlike air travelers, rail passengers do not have to go through electronic scanning machines or have their luggage checked. And most Amtrak trains don’t have armed marshals aboard as some flights to.
“We’re going to look at all these security matters,” Mr. LaHood said at a press conference on Monday in New York. “We’re going to look at everything and then we’ll make a judgment with our friends in Congress and decide what direction we should go.”
This year, as part of the budget cutting process, Congress cut $50 million from a $300 million grant program that was supposed to be used to beef up rail security. In 2010, that grant program provided Boston with $21.9 million, New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority $75 million, and Chicago $10.3 million.
“I think we ought to reexamine that and try to restore that money and maybe make it go a little further,” said Sen. Schumer, who joined LaHood at the press conference.
Schumer said it’s possible that Amtrak will begin to implement a “no-ride list” since the rail carrier knows the names of the people traveling on each train.
“It does not seem that difficult to do,” says Schumer. “They are looking at it right now, looking at the feasibility,” he says.
According to a May 5 article in the Wall Street Journal, there are 12,000 people on the FBI’s no-fly list and another 460,000 on a watch list that requires secondary screening before they are allowed on a plane.
However, security experts believe it’s more difficult to do than to harden airline security. For example, the airlines check passenger names against the no-fly list, a process that can take hours.