Rail security bill introduced

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leaders introduced legislation in the House of Representatives yesterday designed to protect the passenger and freight rail systems from terrorist attack.

The Protecting Railroads against Enemy Efforts through Modernization, Planning and Technology Act (H.R. 4604) would provide resources to harden the railroads against attack such as the one in Madrid and to improve operational recovery from such an incident.

The legislation will fund new technologies such as automated freight car inspection, right-of-way track security monitoring and emergency bridge repair systems. The bill will also fund:

  • Communication-based train control systems

  • A unified national railroad emergency operations center

  • Security and redundancy for critical communications, electrical power, computer and train control systems

  • Train tracking and interoperable communications technology.

The legislation will provide more than $1 billion in new money, including more than $600 million to improve rail tunnels that Amtrak and commuter railroads use. The bill will initially target security funding for the Northeast corridor rail tunnels in New York City, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The New York tunnels, used by tens of thousands of passengers each day, were built in 1910 and lack the security and life-safety features found in modern passenger rail facilities.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the freight railroads and Amtrak have spent millions to tighten security and protect the traveling public and the nation's 100,000 miles of tracks, lawmakers said. 'Most of this has been accomplished without any direct financial assistance from the federal government. We have to do more,' said Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Railroads subcommittee.

Quinn, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Transportation committee chairman, and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.), vice chairman of the Railroads subcommittee, introduced the bill. The Transportation Department will work with the Homeland Security Department on establishing responsibilities for the security plan provisions in the legislation.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.


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