Training for Emergency Response Teams:
It is no secret that our nationís rail system remains vulnerable to terrorist attack. Rail workers, as well as track and bridge workers, do not have adequate security training to know how to thwart a train hijacking, an attack on critical infrastructure, or the planting of a bomb on freight or passenger train cars. Rail lines routinely run through our communities carrying hazardous materials, yet freight rail corporations have failed to provide fire and rescue operators with real-time information about the cargo that is traveling through their cities and towns. Efforts are being taken to ensure that law enforcement and other first responder agencies are trained to respond to any threat or incident on the nationís railways.
Operation ALERTS (Allied Law Enforcement for Rail and Transit Security) is a collective effort involving law enforcement officers from Amtrak, the Transportation Security Administration, and more than 100 federal, state, local railroad and transit police agencies, to enhance the readiness and communication capabilities of first responder agencies that will protect and defend the railways during any type of emergency or potential threat. Operation ALERTS exercises have been conducted during the last couple of years to evaluate the security of railways in some of the busiest passenger rail corridors in the nation. Activities such as heightened station patrols, increased security presence onboard trains, explosives detection canine sweeps, and random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations are part of the coordinated effort.
The exercises that have been conducted by these teams in recent years are being reviewed to identify lessons learned as part of a continuous improvement approach, including evaluation of requirements and tactics for effective response to any possible threats or incidents within the railway system.