When You Think About How Often Amtrak Is Way Behind Schedule, This Is Almost Comforting…
The nation's official (read: subsidized up the ying-yang) passenger rail system, AMTRAK, is swinging into action to secure its customers' safety:
"We want to show we're playing defense" against would-be terrorists, says Amtrak security chief Bill Rooney. "Our focus is counterterrorism. We're thinking along the lines of a Madrid or a London."
Rail bombings in those cities in 2004 and 2005 together killed hundreds of passengers and sparked fears in the United States that terrorists will strike the nation's largely unsecured rail system.
What to expect from the new measures? "Rail passengers from coast to coast will be subject to random security checks and may have their luggage scanned for explosives beginning this fall," sez USA Today.
The Department of Homeland Security notes there is no imminent threat to AMTRAK (arguably that's because terrorists want to kill people, not depopulated legacies of the Nixon years).
Disclosure: I take the AMTRAK service between Washington, DC and New York City several times a year and find that it's much easier and generally more reliable than flying that same distance. Why they don't add a wireless connection is beyond me and, apparently, beyond them, too.
The route between DC and Boston is, by most accounts, the only AMTRAK line that actually pulls in more money than it lays out in direct costs (some Amtrak lines lose over $200 per passenger). As this vast archive of reason stories about AMTRAK attests, it is a service that will a) never cover its costs and b) never be killed (especially now that there's a spate of "AMTRAK Is Back" stories in the press, a genre as cyclical and short-lived as the "new drug of choice" story; look for the service to start begging for more subsidies the more passengers it gets).