Carper Questions Ridge on Rail Security Pledges to Support his Confirmation to Cabinet Secretary
Carper was Ridge's Mentor in the National Governors' Association
Washington, DC – During Tom Ridge’s confirmation hearing today, Senator Tom Carper urged the future Secretary to make passenger rail security a priority for the new Department of Homeland Security. Carper, who served with Ridge in the House and was his mentor in the National Governors Association, pledged to support his friend’s nomination, but demanded greater consideration from the administration for rail passengers’ safety. “Our failure to act to improve security of our rail travel is an Achilles heel in our nation’s efforts to secure our transportation system,” Carper said. “We have focused a significant amount of attention on preventing future airline hijackings but have failed to act to protect our nation’s passenger rail service. We must ensure that the passengers aboard our trains are as safe as the ones in the skies over America.” The FBI has issued warnings that al-Qaeda is considering directly targeting U.S. passenger trains and that operatives may try to destroy key rail bridges and sections of track to cause derailments. Although such attacks could result in hundreds of casualties and shut down the entire passenger rail network, the Administration has made few commitments to making investments in passenger rail safety. “In New York, hundreds of thousands of people on their way to work today passed through tunnels that are badly lit, poorly ventilated and from which is escape is very difficult. There’s a tunnel that goes under the Supreme Court and congressional office buildings that thousands of people pass through each day. Passenger safety demands a real investment. To ask Amtrak to do more with respect to security without providing more resources is an unfunded mandate – not a solution,” Carper said.