• National Security and Railroads

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by OldBull
We understand that very little attention and/or funding is paid to railroad security by the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, no security or terrorism training is given at this time. Hmmm...

We watched a program on public tv last week about the rise of Pirates on the open seas...how unsafe the oceans have become...how goverments are keeping this out of the public eye.

Should we be concerned about security and terrorism? Do any of you think about this while working at 3am out in the middle of nowhere?

Considering what kind of damage all that tonnage could do makes us ask this question. Railroads are transporting dangerous HAZMAT and we can only assume that potential terrorist types know this.

Could upper railroad management be in denial about National Railroad Security? Are they afraid of the cost to train people?
  by jb9152
OldBull wrote:We watched a program on public tv last week about the rise of Pirates on the open seas...how unsafe the oceans have become...how goverments are keeping this out of the public eye.
Not trying to be difficult, but how far can the amorphous "governments" (sometimes shortened to the infamous "they") be keeping this out of the public eye if you just mentioned it on a public message board?

  by slchub
I posted this in another thread earlier. I'm thinking it won't be much longer before other states require the same. Illinois and Missouri have also signed on.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a railroad security bill into law on Oct. 1, reports Trains.com.

Known as the Local Community Rail Security Act of 2006, it requires railroads to provide a detailed risk assessment of each rail facility in California by July 1, 2007. The law also calls on rail carriers to document their emergency response procedures in case of acts of sabotage or terrorism.

By Jan. 1, 2008, railroads are required to develop and implement an infrastructure protection program. Railroad employees will receive specialized security training to recognize, prevent and respond to sabotage, terrorism or other crimes.

Also, I don't think it will be much longer before the RR's are mandated to start a security program similar to those in place with the airlines whereas those employees who have access to the AOA (airport operation areas) will be required to have a SIDA badge (security id area) in the railroad yard and terminal areas.

  by powerpro69
Certainly, with the crap we have coming out of Houston, it would be way too easy for them to plan something pretty dang big, heck, we don't even have enough security to stop the crackheads from waltzing through at will.

  by CN_Hogger
Last week we had the TSA at one of our yards and everyone had to take a 7 or 8 question survey about railroad security. They seemed to be quite surprised to hear that we recieved almost no training in regards to security.

  by cifn2
I am suprised that they are not signing on more police officers and security type agents to ride trains cross trained as conductors or something to save money.... I saw a load of about 100 cars of Radioactive material being transported by CSX today... first I have seen in my area.

  by RussNelson
An open society such as ours is inherently insecure. There are threats WAY worse than anything you can do with a train. Please don't talk about how insecure railroads are. You'll panic people into demanding that trains operate slower (See the Elmira thread), or that railroads not run through town .... just as they demand that nuclear shipments not go through their town.

Please, folks, don't go there. If you want to be terrorized, go sit in your basement with the lights off. You'll be very safe.

  by OldBull
If I had a company that needed to ship product, I would want it to go by the most safe and secure means possible. Why? Litigation!

I would not want to be hauled into court because my product was part of an accident...even though I was not the shipper. It may be true that both the shipper and product owner will be in litigation.

The entire country is "waking up" to both safety and security issues as a result of 9-1-2001. Our own Union and Railroad management has already approached the Department of Homeland Security about this. The cat-is-out-of-the-bag already. The Elmira town managers are not unique with their safety and security concerns.

We can shut down this forum in an attempt to keep this subject "quiet." However, the subject of railroad safety and security would not go away.

  by RussNelson
There are reasonable steps to take to secure railroads. There are also politically-motivated unreasonable steps. We call that "Security Theater" because it's only being done for appearance's sake, to mollify people. You might ask "Well, what's wrong with that? People have the right to feel secure." I say no; people have the right to understand the risks so they can structure their life accordingly.

Ronald Coase pointed out that when sparks from a steam engine set fire to a field of wheat, it's not necessarily the railroad's fault. It may have been the farmer, for planing wheat so close to the railroad. Similarly, a people's desire for security doesn't mean that a railroad needs to change. Maybe people need to distance themselves from the threats they fear. If you dread tornados, living in tornado alley would be YOUR fault, not the fault of the weather, or God, or anybody but yourself.

The alternative, of saying that people should never be at risk from any harm, is completely ridiculous.

  by Aji-tater
Some of those TV shows are scare journalism at their worst. "Look, we went right up to this tank car full of nasty stuff". OK, what's the answer? It's already illegal to trespass.

The railroad is not like a chemical factory, it is not practical to fence in every foot of every railroad. How would you address highway crossings which would present access (and some nut could ram into a tank car as it crossed if he so desired).

We are already under instructions to be alert, report any suspicious activity, etc. Railroads are already required to have documentation of all hazmat, response plans, etc. What more could we do that is practical and realistic? Remember, we kill many thousands on our highways each year. If speed limits were lowered to 5 MPH, we could save every one of those lives. But obviously that is NOT realistic or practical.

If you look closely, these scare programs all have a common thread - MORE GOVERNMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS. They think the answer to everything is enforcement and mandates (which translate into more government control and spending). Common sense and awareness are the best defense and we should maintain those to the utmost. Beyond that, who can suggest something? I'm willing to consider it.

  by RussNelson
Aji-tater wrote:mandates (which translate into more government control and spending).
Or worse, unfunded mandates, which transate into higher costs for railroads, which translates into making trucks more competitive, which translates into less train traffic, which translates into railroad abandonments. And all for what? To make people feel better about railroads??

Just Say No to Security Theater.

  by cifn2
railroads can't spend some of their 100 million in profits for safety of their employees and the public? How about these trains just idling in the yards no one around?

  by Aji-tater
What do you propose to do about them? Place a guard every 10 carlengths, on both sides of each one? Have 3 times the number of crews needed, so you can whisk each train away as soon as it arrives? (Don't know how you will switch them out in that case) Build a 15-foot high wall around the entire yard?

  by cifn2
not exactly, sure what the plan should be, but I believe that the railroad police should patrol sections in the rural areas at least. I have never seen a railroad officer in my many times around the tracks in this area, that is until they derail one.

  by RussNelson
There are some risks for which nobody is responsible, and for which nobody can take any cost-effective steps to ameliorate. "Should we just do nothing??" Yes. There are more pressing problems.