New security for U.S. rails announced

Bomb-sniffing dogs and luggage inspection

March 23, 2004|By Elaine S. Povich | Elaine S. Povich,NEWSDAY

WASHINGTON - Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced new railroad security measures for long-distance and commuter trains yesterday, including greater use of bomb-sniffing dogs and a luggage inspection pilot program that could begin in New York City or Washington.

Ridge would not say where the pilot program would take place, but he said it would start late next month and acknowledged that officials of both cities are interested.

He said the inspections would not be "airport-type" screenings of luggage and new technology would be used, but he would not elaborate.

Ridge said the convenience of rail travel and the sheer number of passengers who "jump on a train" every day might make screening difficult and security so tight that the railroads would go out of business for lack of passengers.

"But post-9/11 and post-3/11, we still have to look to see if there's a way we can engineer access in a better way," he said, referring to the 2001 terror attacks in the United States and the March 11 attacks in Spain that killed more than 200.

"The pilot program is a way to take a look at what people will tolerate and make it as convenient as possible."

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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