Posted: Jan. 17, 2003
QUESTIONS RIDGE ON RAIL SECURITY
Washington, DC - During Tom Ridge’s
confirmation hearing today, Senator Tom Carper urged the future
Secretary to make passenger rail security a priority for the new
Department of Homeland Security. Carper, who served with Ridge in
the House and was his mentor in the National Governors Association,
pledged to support his friend’s nomination, but demanded greater
consideration from the administration for rail passengers’ safety.
"Our failure to act to improve security of our
rail travel is an Achilles heel in our nation's efforts to secure
our transportation system," Carper said. "We have focused a
significant amount of attention on preventing future airline
hijackings but have failed to act to protect our nation's passenger
rail service. We must ensure that the passengers aboard our trains
are as safe as the ones in the skies over America."
The FBI has issued warnings that al-Qaeda is
considering directly targeting U.S. passenger trains and that
operatives may try to destroy key rail bridges and sections of track
to cause derailments. Although such attacks could result in hundreds
of casualties and shut down the entire passenger rail network, the
Administration has made few commitments to making investments in
passenger rail safety.
"In New York, hundreds of thousands of people
on their way to work today passed through tunnels that are badly
lit, poorly ventilated and from which is escape is very difficult.
There’s a tunnel that goes under the Supreme Court and congressional
office buildings that thousands of people pass through each day.
Passenger safety demands a real investment. To ask Amtrak to do more
with respect to security without providing more resources is an
unfunded mandate - not a solution," Carper said.
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