Homeland Security Act Now Includes $1.208 Billion for Rail Security

WASHINGTON, DC – Amtrak will be better able to prevent and respond to potential terrorist attacks with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee’s passage today of Senator Tom Carper’s amendment to the bill that creates the Department of Homeland Security. Carper included a $1.208 billion authorization for rail security and safety measures. “Our lack of rail security precautions is an Achilles heel in our nation’s efforts to secure our transportation system. It would be nice to believe that our rail system will never be a target for terrorists, but this is naïve. To date, the federal government has failed to take the steps necessary to make it secure,” Carper said. “The century-old rail tunnels that carry hundreds of thousands of passengers daily through New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC present serious safety and security concerns from poor ventilation and lighting to inadequate escape routes. Amtrak’s security personnel are stretched thin and require better resources to prevent a terrorist attack. My amendment authorizes funds for Amtrak to address these critical concerns. ” The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee marked up the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002 (S. 2452), which will create the Department of Homeland Security. Carper’s amendment, which passed the Committee in a roll-call vote includes: (A) $375,000,000 for grants to beef up security at stations, bridges, tunnels, tracks, yards and facilities nationwide; (B) $778,000,000 for grants for life safety improvements to 6 New York Amtrak tunnels built in 1910, the Baltimore and Potomac Amtrak tunnel built in 1872, and the Washington, D.C. Union Station Amtrak tunnels built in 1904 under the Supreme Court and House and Senate Office Buildings; (C) $55,000,000 for the repair, and returning to service of Amtrak passenger cars and locomotives. “When the planes were grounded on September 11, Amtrak proved to be the iron will of our nation’s transportation system, carrying thousands of passengers, emergency personnel and equipment. But there are currently dozens of Amtrak passenger railcars and locomotives that sit damaged and would be unable to be brought into service in time of emergency,” Carper said.