TSA begins second phase of rail security experiment

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National Press Release
Monday, June 7, 2004

WASHINGTON - Amtrak passengers boarding long-distance trains at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station will have their checked luggage screened for explosives June 7–30 as part of the second stage of a pilot program exploring new measures for rail security, the Department of Homeland Security announced today.

The goal of the Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP) Phase II is to evaluate the use of emerging technologies in a rail environment to screen checked and unclaimed baggage, as well as temporarily stored personal items and cargo for explosives.

Screeners from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct the inspections. Checked baggage bound for Amtrak long-distance trains at Union Station, along with unclaimed and stored personal items and cargo will be screened from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday throughout the one-month Phase II of the pilot program.

"The second phase of the TRIP project will build on the rail security passenger test and focus on screening of baggage and rail cargo. This is another step in the process of improving security for the millions of Americans who travel by rail everyday," said Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at DHS.

Phase I of TRIP was completed at the end of May and consisted of screening of passengers and their carry-on baggage for explosives at the Amtrak/MARC rail station at New Carrollton, Md.

"I appreciate the enthusiasm of passengers and the hard work of the screeners and staff that made Phase I a success," stated Rear Adm. David M. Stone (USN, Ret.), TSA's Acting Administrator. "We learned a great deal about this technology and its impact on the traveler and will use these lessons to further improve rail security."

TRIP Phase II is expected to yield important data on the effectiveness of screening equipment in a non-climate controlled environment, cost and impact on Amtrak operations. This knowledge will aid in prototyping a cargo screening model that could be applicable to other modes of transportation.

TSA is urging all passengers who check baggage at Union Station to ensure that photographic equipment (including unprocessed film), computers, software, VCRs as well as valuables be removed from their checked baggage prior to submitting the baggage for screening. TSA also recommends that all luggage be left unlocked so that bags can be opened in the event further inspection is needed.

Amtrak passengers boarding trains at Union Station are urged to check the Amtrak website, www.amtrak.com for lists of other prohibited items.