• Security of passengers...

  • Tell us where you were and what you saw!
Tell us where you were and what you saw!

Moderator: David Benton

  by John_Perkowski
I don't want to open this discussion, because rail has traditionally been an open and welcoming form of travel. Not wanting to, though, does not mean we don't need to talk about passenger security on Amtrak.

I see a huge problem with rail passenger security: Unattended or minimally staffed stations.

Who on the West Coast remembers San Juan Capistrano or San Clemente in days not too far gone by? Well after A-day, these were just shelters on the track. Unattended stations. You bought your ticket either from the Conductor, or from a machine, or you had a ticket from somewhere else in advance.

What about most Amschacks on the route (or even traditional stations like Osceola, IA)?? They have 1-2 station agents, and the train crew is there to lift the transportation and get the passengers on the train. These are folks not trained in security and law enforcement.

To be perfectly honest, sabotage seems to be easier than attacking the train itself.

What are your considered thoughts here?

  by metrarider
John_Perkowski wrote:
I see a huge problem with rail passenger security: Unattended or minimally staffed stations.
Unstaffed stations themselves don't present much additional problem, the main problem is it's impossible to secure the ROW.

Sabotage of the tracks has happened in the past, and will continue to happen. But put things in perspective. The most dangerous thing we all do is get in our cars to drive to work/school/shops. And we do it everyday without serious consideration of the possible consequences.

We shouldn't get too caught up int he security histeria, because for each element we 'secure' there are 10 others we can't/won't secure. we should all be aware of our surroundings, but not succumb to irrational fear. Remember it's possible to justify pretty much anything in the name of 'security'

  by John_Perkowski
I have to agree with both your points, Mr Metarider...

The relative risk of one person suffering from an attack executed aboard any given train is perhaps not vanishingly small, but not considerable either.

Comparing the potential for sabotage to the potential for direct action most likely will show in favor of sabotage.

There are a bunch of policy options here:

Do nothing ... always an option.

Increase patrolling of lines. Who funds?

Find a technology answer to monitor against sabotage...

I'm asking the questions, I want to see what we as a collective think

  by LI Loco
Terrorism succeeds by striking terror (as its name applies) in the hearts of people who witness or learn about these dastardly events. If we give in to our fears, i.e. change our lifestyles on account of terrorist threats, the terrorists win.

It is impossible to maintain surveillance on every potential terrorist target; every rail line, highway, bridge, etc. The country is too big and the cost would bankupt us. Plus, it woul enable technology to be turned into a weapon that could deprive ordinary citizens of their basic rights and invade their privacy.

How then to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks.

1. Eradicate terrorist groups - we started doing this in Afghanistan but lost ouyr focus when the government focused its military effort on Iraq.

2. Stronger border protection.

3. Monitoring acitivites of and gather intelligence on potential terrorist suspects inside.

4. Strengthen protection of facilities to better withstand attacks.

What we shouldn't be doing is whipping up public hysteria by tring to link every possible threat - e.g. anthrax, Washington sniper shootings - to global terrorism or arresting ordinary citizens for taking pictures of trains.

  by jfrey40535
The terrorists actually win by doing nothing. Just the threat of an attack can be considered terror, as our government has us walking around in fear constantly reminding us that an attack could be imminent.

Any of you guys here see Farenheit 911? We really need to consider how real the threat is and what appropriate actions to take. Holding trains for 90 minutes on a 90 minute trip from Philly is not a good option. Do that enough times and we will have empty trains (or is that the real goal? hmmm....).

If every train going into NYP needs to be scanned, perhaps they could have a "train marshall" that rides from Trenton and have screening for those boarding at Newark.

However, I would be skeptical of this whole thing if all of these measures are applied only to Amtrak trains and not PATH, NJT or LIRR trains.
  by Noel Weaver
It is absolutely impossible to physically screen the thousands upon
thousands of passengers who ride in and out of the big cities on both
Amtrak and various commuter trains.
Security needs to be stepped up in all areas but especially around the
There needs to be a "truce" between the commuter authorities, Amtrak,
law enforcement agencies on the one hand and the railfan community on
the other hand. I do not believe there are funds nor man/womanpower
enough to guard all facilities all of the time. This is where the railfans
come in, lets screen them, interview them, educate them and then give
them permits with pictures on them to be worn as identification and let
them do their thing.
I do not think most fans would object to a reasonable background check
and the idea of wearing a picture ID while in pursuit of their photos as
compared with the situation now where they are being hassled by police,
employees passengers and just about anyone else every time the
opportunity presents itself.
Cost, of course it would cost but it would be a lot less than paying to hire
and train enough police and security people to do this and the railfans are
all over the place day and night. The presence of a picture ID around a
persons neck or pinned to their coat might even be re-assuring to a
concerned passenger or employee.
There are critical areas everywhere, I am not going to get into them here
and I don't think others should either.
Noel Weaver

  by David Benton
a passengers first ( well probably second if you count the booking process )impression of the service is the railroad station . If its unattended , poorly lit ,and in a dubious nieghborhood , then that impression is not a good one . Tends to put one in a negative state of mind , althought the arrival of a nice warm train may compensate for that . But if the trains late , or some other problem with it , then the negative opinion gets worse .
given the funding crisis theres probably not alot Amtrak can do , perhaps try to organise something with the cities on a local level .

  by LI Loco
Granted a passenger station once was the gateway to a community, but is it realistic to expect lavish, staffed facilities in this day and age at each of the 500+ communities Amtrak serves?

If security is an issue there are probably ways to improve conditions utilising communications technology, e.g. Internet, CCTV.

  by electrokeystone
...i apologize up front for ranting

...if it is not relevant to the tread i can repost...

...quite frankly i think we have a long way to go regarding the handling of security...i don't think are there just yet...am i a security expert...NO..but i know that i don't feel safer knowing that sweeps will be conducted...since a would be terrorist could simply not leave a note...we also tend to announce strategy far too much...like doing a seat drop specifying the exact nature of the prohibitions of luggage racks and bathrooms and the start date of enhanced security...and then hardening one system...and not the other...

in many ways the terrorists are getting an upper hand with this hysteria...many are civil liberties are under fire...or at the very least subject to adjudication by law enforement officers who haven't the slightest clue of what the "Preamble" is, or where the first consitutional convestion was held...why is this important?...because these individuals now have the ability to search and sieze our personal property with little oversight ON THE SCENE and only after much humiliation and stubborn admission are the rights of citizens upheld too far after the fact...

Quite franky I find the additional RNC security to be an insult to the NYC area residents since I guess we are on our own for protection after the RNC leaves? obviously the current security provisions are lacking if your follow the logic of some...

my recommendations for fighting terror on mass transit:

#1 Operational redundancy...a quick return to normal is essential...it is very hard to predict a strike but you can plan a multitude of responses...being prepared is the first line of defense in my book...the monsters should not be able to shut us down for long...make sure EMS/ POLICE/ FIRE can be deployed with overwelming force...system sweeps can be done in a swift fashion...and alternatives for moving passengers are firmly in place...

#2 Make sweeps efficient and unannounced. Don't do a press release with your security measures?!?!

#3 Make sure all law enforcement knows what they are really protecting... American lives first. But the principles of our founding fathers are a close second...all law enforement should be educated with a little Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson, Hobbs, and Locke (and some of these guys though too much Democracy was a bad thing ;)...the bottom line is that this country strongly believes in limited police powers...with every American life we protect comes the principles spelled out in our Preamble.

These cancerous individuals [terrorists] are attacking the pillars of our post modern society, civilization as we know it - transportation is one such pillar in countless ways. Taking a mode of transportation so routine and turning into a mode to transmit fear is what they want. We can't alow that happen. America strives to be the best in the world, well dealing with terror needs to be on that list too, better than Europe and certainly better than our current practices. [...though i recognize the hard work security officials have done thus far]

The FRA, NTSB, and other safety standards have been developed over many years to ensure that our travel experience is as uneventful as possible and I resent some terrorist taking me back to the dark ages before modern saftey standards and medicine -at least in terms of fear.

I think it wil be another few years before we fully integrate security measure into our society...eventaully sweeps will be just as thorough in just half the time, passengers will tolerate and re-route, and like we have in so many ways we will irradicate the notion of terrorists much like we did polio.

that's my .02

  by crazy_nip
if there is one thing that terrorists have taught us, that is that terrorists can strike anywhere they want, at any target that want

so it is simply wasted resources trying to stop them...

the sooner you all realize that you can die at any time, any where, the sooner we can move on...

if everyone is scared all the time, they win

if we spend BILLIONS of dollars defending things that will never be attacked, and something else, just as equally important is attacked, they win

basically they WIN until we just come to the realization that we live in an unsafe world

the sooner we can come to grips with this, the sooner we can spend money bettering ourselves

some of us will die along the way, but hey, we are born to die...

this myth of "national security" is just that

its a solid JOKE

we are no safer than we were pre-911 (which was not very safe)

but one thing is for certain




its a joke, the sooner some of you take off the blinders, the better

it doesnt take a genius with a few pounds of TNT and a rental truck to basically take out every major transport artery in and out of every city in america

then what?

You cant guard every bridge, road and tunnell

you cant

get over it...
  by crazy_nip
David Telesha wrote:Work with railfans, do a background check, give them ID's. I agree with that 100% and find no part objectionable.

and be first on every FBI interrogation list when something "bad" happens to a train in your area...

you go right ahead and get your "papers", I am just fine as is, thank you...

I'd happily pay $20.00 or something like that PER YEAR, to have a background check, and a photo ID, if it meant I could photograph in peace and not fear getting harassed for paranoia.

well you go right ahead, hope you like a life of harassment and subjugation...

let me know how being labeled a "person of interest" feels when a train derails anywhere near you, or some no tresspassing signs come up missing

this administration has shown us that they have no problems going to great lengths to ruin people's lives when they have no credible evidence of any crime

in the name of the "war on terror"

have fun with your life, while you still have it

  by metrarider
crazy. I am in substantial agreement.

However, there are things we can do to improve security somewhat, but most as you say are wasted money and breath.

As well , when you secure one area, the enemy will simply attack another.

The only real solution to terror is to mitigate the conditions which create it in the first place, and sow good will rather than bad

  by Irish Chieftain
Look, I have studied this terrorism issue since Sept. 11th
Have you studied this document as well? Kinda clarifies a lot of stuff.
  by metrarider
David Telesha wrote:
The only way to stop the threat is to eliminate it, period.

seriously, the war on terror is not going to stop terrorism, to think otherwise is delusional.

The only lasting solution is to remove the fertile ground that terrorists are sown from.

  by John_Perkowski

Unfortunately, cameras are tools of reconaissance as well as tools of the railfan. How we integrate fans as civilian support volunteers to railroad special police agencies is something RLHS and NRHS need to work on behalf of the fan community.

Dr Franklin's classic quote: Those who would trade their freedom for security, deserve neither freedom nor security, seems apropo. I am unwilling to surrender my freedoms and my civil rights ... not one iota. I think the biggest thing we can do is be good citizens. If we know railfans X, Y, and Z frequent observation point A ... and suddenly we find citizen B showing up at observation point A, maybe we need to ask the gendarmerie to have an interview with him or her.

If this were easy, the thread would have been short.