Fact Sheet: Rail and Transit Security Initiatives

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The responsibility of securing our nation's rail and mass transit systems is a shared one.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other federal agencies have taken significant steps to enhance rail and transit security in the last two years in partnership with the public and private entities that own and operate the nation's transit and rail systems.  Efforts the past two years have focused on greater information sharing between the industry and all levels of government, assessing vulnerabilities in the rail and transit sector to develop new security measures and plans, increasing training and public awareness campaigns and providing greater assistance and funding for rail transit activities.

Today, the Department announced additional security initiatives that aim to further reduce vulnerabilities to transit and rail systems and make commuters and transit riders more secure.  Currently, the Federal government provides leadership and technical assistance to transit and rail system owners and operators.  New initiatives to be undertaken will target three specific areas:  threat response support capability, public awareness and participation, and future technological innovations.


The Department will build on many of the security measures recommended during the past two years for implementation to mass transit and passenger rail authorities by DHS, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Department will engage the industry and state and local authorities to establish base-line security measures based on current industry best practices.  This includes all existing security measures currently being implemented consistently in the mass transit system and the commuter rail environment.  These base-line measures could be adjusted in consultation with transit and rail system owners and operators in response to higher threat levels or specific threats in the future. Additional measures could be achieved through the use of technical assistance or security directives, which would specifically target mitigation of only thoseentified vulnerabilities.  DHS will ensure compliance with safety and security standards for commuter and rail lines and better helpentify gaps in the security system in coordination with DOT.  Additional DHS technical assistance and training will be provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  

Threat Response Capability

Mass Transit K-9 ProgramThe Department will develop a rapid deployment Mass Transit K-9 program by utilizing existing Homeland Security explosive K-9 resources.  These mobile DHS response teams will be prepared to assist local law enforcement teams.  Building upon TSA's work in the aviation context, DHS will partner with local authorities to provide additional training and assistance for local K-9 teams. Federal Protective Services K-9 teams would also be cross-trained for utilization in the rail and transit environment. The mobile program would predominantly be used in special threat environments and provide additional federal resources to augment state and local transit and rail authorities security measures.

Transit Inspection PilotThe Department will implement a pilot program to test the feasibility of screening luggage and carry-on bags for explosives at rail stations and aboard trains.  The initial program will be implemented at one station with commuter rail service in conjunction with Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration.  The pilot program would not resemble an aviation-type solution to transit and rail, but rather provide the Department with a venue to test new technologies and screening concepts.  The lessons learned from the pilot could allow transit operators to deploy targeted screening in high threat areas or in response to specific intelligence.

Education and Awareness

The industry and FTA have developed and implemented employee and public awareness campaigns.  DHS will work with state and local rail and transit authorities and DOT to integrate existing passenger and rail education and awareness programs.  Where necessary, the Department will create new programs to increase passenger, rail employee, and local law enforcement awareness through public awareness campaigns and security personnel training.  A number of training templates and rider education materials are currently in development by TSA and FTA allowing the Department to leverage existing efforts to generate additional public awareness.  The Department's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center will also accelerate current security training programs for transit law enforcement personnel.

Future Technological Innovations

The Department's Science and Technology division is focusing on the development of a number of homeland security technologies.  Many of these could or are being used in the mass transit environment including chemical and biological countermeasures.  

Biological, Chemical and High Explosives CountermeasuresThe President's FY 2005 budget request includes $407 million for DHS for continued develop biological countermeasures (including an integrated threat agent warning and characterization system) and $63 million in DHS for chemical and high explosives countermeasures.  These investments will enhance our ability to detect and counter threats, including threats to transit systems.

The Department's Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency is developing a Broad Agency Announcement on bomb interdiction for truck and suicide threats with approximately $5 million in funding that will be released in the coming months.  This program will focus on research and development of next generation technology for High Explosives Countermeasures.  In the future, these countermeasures could address the threat that terrorists might use explosives in attacks on buildings, critical infrastructure, and the civilian population of the United States.  

The goal of the program will be to develop and test field equipment, technologies and procedures to interdict suicide bombers and car and truck bombs before they can reach their intended targets while minimizing the impact on the American way of life.

Security Enhancements Since September 11

These new initiatives further bolster homeland security activities and priorities established by the Administration following the terrorist attacks of September 11.  This includes:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  • The Department of Homeland Security's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection division and TSA and DOT's Federal Railroad Administration and Federal Transit Administration have conducted comprehensive vulnerability assessments of rail and transit networks that operate in high-density urban areas. The risk-based assessments have provided information on where current and future security resources must be directed to reduce vulnerabilities to terrorism.  As a result of these assessments, transit systems are producing robust security and emergency preparedness plans.
  • The Department of Homeland Security's grant program for improving rail and transit security in urban areas that has awarded or allocated over $115 million since May 2003.
  •  The Department of Homeland Security also coordinates information and threat sharing through the Surface Transportation ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Center) managed by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) including deploying TSA personnel to the ISAC and hosting ISAC representatives at TSA's Transportation Security Coordination Center in Virginia.  
  •  The Department of Homeland Security's TSA has held numerous security exercises that bring together rail carriers, federal and local first responders, and security experts.  TSA hasentified and is addressing gaps in antiterrorism training among rail personnel.  Rail personnel have traveled to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to receive antiterrorism training.
  •  The Department of Homeland Security is screening high risk rail cargo entering the U.S. through the National Targeting Center (NTC) and through its border inspection workforce to help prevent rail lines from being used as instruments of terrorism delivery against transit.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has assisted in the deployment of biological and chemical detection equipment to some local transit districts.  In the DHS FY 2004 appropriations, $285 million was allocated for efforts to develop biological countermeasures and $61.5 million for chemical and high explosives countermeasures.  DHS Science and Technology has specifically dedicated some of these funds for rail security.

U.S. Department of Transportation and Amtrak

  • The Department of Transportation is coordinating rail security-related projects including responding to bomb threats, monitoring incident databases for acts of sabotage and vandalism, and serving as a liaison to railroads regarding terrorist activity.
  • The Department of Transportation will provide nearly $4 billion in transit formula grants to States and localities under the President's FY 2005 budget request.  States and localities have the ability to spend some of these resources on security-related projects.  Formula grant funding permits the local transit agencies to determine the optimum security strategy and to target funding to areas with the greatest need.
  •  In 2002, Amtrak received $100 million for life safety and security improvements to the rail tunnels connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and Long Island.  Amtrak has spent $76 million to date, and the New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Railroad are also contributing to construction costs.  The funding will support improvements for fire and emergency service access and communications.  
  • Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the Association of American Railroads, which represents the freight rail industry, prepared a ified security plan that entifies risks and security measures.  FRA has also contracted with the Rand Corporation to conduct a systematic review and assessment of Amtrak's security posture and current programs, focusing on the adequacy of preparedness for combating terrorist threats.  The Federal Railroad Administration has reviewed these documents.  

State & Local Transit and Rail Security Examples

  • Systems have participated in exercises, protocols, and training forentifying the effects of a chemical/biological attack and have developed system-wide Employee Awareness Campaigns as well as deployed chemical and biological detection equipment.
  • All major state and local mass transit and rail commuter operators have completed vulnerability assessments since Sept. 11 with federal technical assistance to best determine where current and future security resources must be directed to reduce vulnerabilities to terrorism. Sample protective measures taken in response to the assessments by major metropolitan transit systems such as New York City, Washington, DC and Chicago are:

>>Perimeter barriers, high-tech fencing and lighting.

>>Intrusion detection equipment.

>>Alternative external communications capability for continuity of operations.

>>Increased number of uniformed and undercover patrols on light rail and subway systems.

>>Hazmat training for personnel.

>>Increased number of inspections of trash receptacles and other storage areas -- this also included securing, closing off, or removing some of these areas where things may be stored and removing some trash receptacles.

>>Increased number and frequency of bomb detecting canine teams.

>>Continued broadcast of public announcements to alert riders and citizens to be aware of the bombing in Madrid, watch their surroundings, and report any suspicious activities or abandoned property such as back packs, garbage bags, etc.

>>Increased video surveillance and review of such materials.  

>>Procurement of personal protective equipment for emergency responders