Fox 23 News
In response to Sen. Schumer’s proposal of a “No Ride List,” Amtrak Spokesperson Cliff Cole released the following statement:
“Amtrak is committed to the safety and security of our passengers and remains a safe way to travel. All countermeasures add value in creating an overall security posture in protecting a rail system that operates in an open environment. The creation of a “do not ride” list is no exception. It would, however, have to be developed in close coordination with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and implemented in a way that respects civil rights and allows for the rapid flow of persons and trains, necessary for effective mass transit. “
Cliff tells FOX23 News right now, Amtrak passengers are not checked against any sort of terrorist watch list. He says they have certain passengers who are essentially flagged, but there is not a master list.
On Sunday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a push for increased rail security and called for the creation of an Amtrak “No Ride List,’ in light of intelligence gathered from a raid on Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistani compound that indicated Al-Qaida was in the very early stages of planning an attack on U.S. train infrastructure.
Schumer announced that he would be pushing for increased funding for rail security to fund greater track inspections for commuter and passenger rail systems, as well as increased monitoring and support for local law enforcement security at local train stations throughout the country.
Additionally, he is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to use the successful Secure Flight program and expand it for use on Amtrak, essentially creating an Amtrak “No Ride List” to keep suspected terrorists off United States rail infrastructure.
While Rail and Port Security grant funding was cut by $50 million under the budget compromise reached last month, Schumer said that new circumstances require reconsideration and greater investment in rail safety funding that is vital for local law enforcement officials to enhance the security of our nation’s rail systems.
Schumer called for increased investment in the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), which supports sustainable, risk-based efforts to protect critical transit infrastructure. The program provides rail operators with funding for track protection against explosive devices in tunnels, deterrence provisions, and training for rail personnel.
In order to better prevent would-be terrorists from boarding major passenger trains, Schumer also urged DHS to apply the successful “Secure Flight” program to Amtrak in a way that works for rail security.
Secure Flight is the Transportation Security Administration’s behind-the-scenes watch list monitoring program that enhances aviation security by cross checking would-be travelers with the terror watch list.
The program serves to prevent individuals on the No Fly List from boarding an aircraft and to identify individuals on the selectee list for enhanced screening.
Schumer wants the same program to be applied to Amtrak where passengers purchase tickets ahead of time to reserve a seat in the same way an airline ticket is purchased.
Schumer noted that the Amtrak rail system transported 28.7 million passengers in 2010 and carries 78,000 passengers every day on 300 different trains.