Keeping Amtrak safe from terrorism

Friday, June 29, 2012

Travelers passing through 30th Street Station Friday noticed more eyes on them and on their bags.

"It makes you feel safer to know things are being watched," one traveler told Action News.

Suitcases, purses and backpacks were all swiped and screened. Officers were stationed across the station and on platforms. And canine officers were sniffing for explosives.

"We are going into the holiday weekend and we also have some potential high travel and we try to be random," said Amtrak's Assistant Chief of Police, Lisa Shahade.

It's called Operation Railsafe. Friday marked the 25th time Amtrak has partnered with the TSA and local law enforcement for what they call high visibility surge operations, or exercises in counterterrorism response.

Shahade told me Friday's operation was not in response to any particular threat.

"No, there's not a specific threat to rail at this time," she said. "We do need to be aware that there always is a potential for a terrorist attack."

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was traveling by rail Friday morning and said the extra security and screening was a welcome sight.

"If you look at Europe, the emphasis there by terrorists hasn't been on planes, it's been on trains," he told me. "So it's good to know we've got this here. And those dogs are unbelievable!"

Pennsylvania was one of roughly 40 states that participated in Friday's Operation Railsafe event. Passengers had mixed opinions on the heightened security.

"It's a hassle. But I guess if it's needed, okay. I'm willing to do it," said Rina Maschler of Mount Airy.

"I think it a good idea because anything can happen on a train, so i think to do it random is a pretty good idea," said Tony Webb of Germantown.

Amtrak told us it performs these multi-force security surges randomly, about once a month on average.

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philadelphia, terrorism, amtrak, transportation security administration, local/state, alicia vitarelli
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