Trains have been dominating the headlines - with warnings of terror attacks against the Amtrak system, announcements of funding for new rail construction projects, plus a plethora of recent derailments and other mishaps, the public is suddenly hyper-aware of the nation's rail service.
Data recovered from Osama bin Laden's Pakistan hideout indicated the Al-Qaeda leader had been mulling the possibility of attacking the nation's railways, whenever he could tear himself away from watching his own videos. (All kidding aside: haven't terrorists in the al-Q network been thinking about THAT for years and years and years? What ELSE were they thinking of?) That data discovery has prompted US Senator Charles Schumer to call for creation of a “do not ride” list for Amtrak. He explains list would be modeled after the "no-fly" list that keeps those suspected of terrorism from flying in or out of the United States. The New York Democrat says the U.S. has to remain vigilant in protecting itself from future attacks.
There may be a few bumps on the rails: Here's a sampling of what various individuals have brought up on blogs and social networks...
1) Every Amtrak station is wide-open. Currently there are no provisions for a secure area to board the trains – that means "they" will have to undertake a massive redesign to make the stations more like airports with secure & insecure areas. This would be pretty costly, especially for small stops like Croton-on-Hudson, yes?
2) A passenger would no longer be able to board the train and purchase a last-minute ticket. (Something that's saved my backside many times!)
3) Buying a ticket would require presentation of proper legal identification – what about those among us who can’t afford proper identification? If it is a barrier to vote, it’s a barrier to riding the train, right?
4) Since we have identified trains as a possible terrorist target, how long until we must submit to body scans, pat-downs, strict limitations on fluids, and of course, baggage inspection?
5) How, exactly, will making it harder to board a train encourage people to use their planned “high-speed trains”? The 30 to 40 minutes that might be shaved off the ride from Albany to New Yrok City and vice-versa would be useless if one has to arrive 2 hours ahead of time at the station just to go through the security procedures, so in the end it will be just as hard to get on a train as a plane, and in most cases the plane will be faster.
What's next? Security for those wanting to ride the bus? And wouldn't terrorists be looking at screwing with the rails? It's not like they'd be able to hijack a train and crash it into a skyscraper! There are bajillions of spots along the Alb-NYC route where somebody could monkey with the hardware.
Tags: Chuck Schumer, amtrak safety
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