Amtrak adopting new security measures

Will include random bag searches
February 19, 2008 4:21:44 PM PST
Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.Unlike the airlines, Amtrak has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Amtrak officials say passengers will not be required to arrive at stations far in advance. Passengers who are selected randomly for the screening will be delayed no more than a couple of minutes.

The new procedures draw heavily on measures being used in the New York City subways.

Amtrak plans to roll out the new "mobile security teams" first on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, the railroad's most heavily used route, before expanding them to the rest of the country.

The teams will show up unannounced at stations and set up baggage screening areas in front of boarding gates. Officers will randomly pull people out of line and wipe their bags with a special swab that is then put through a machine that detects explosives. If the machine detects anything, officers will open the bag for visual inspection.

Anybody selected who refuses to be screened will not be allowed to board and their ticket will be refunded.

In addition, counterterrorism officers with bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol platforms and walk through trains.

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