U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Press Release May 4, 2004
TSA launches new passenger rail security testbed
Pilot Program Will Test Explosives-Detecting Technology to Protect
MD) May 4, 2004 – The TSA today launched
a test program to measure the feasibility of explosives screening
for people and bags traveling on U.S. trains. Amtrak and Maryland
Rail Commuter (MARC) passengers boarding at the New Carrollton
train station will be screened for explosives starting May 4 as
part of a pilot project to make rail travel safer, the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today.
The goal of the Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP) is to
evaluate the use of emerging technologies to screen passengers
and their carry-on items for explosives in the transit and rail
environment in certain situations. The pilot program will last
“The TRIP pilot project is one of many steps DHS is taking
to enhance rail security. As we test these new processes and technologies
we expect to learn valuable lessons today that will allow us to
better protect rail passengers tomorrow,” said Asa Hutchinson,
Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security at DHS.
The TRIP study is a joint effort of DHS, the U.S. Department of
Transportation, Amtrak, MARC, and the Washington Metropolitan Area
Transit Authority (WMATA). The pilot is also one of the initiatives
which DHS Secretary Tom Ridge announced March 22 to provide another
tool for threat response capability.
Screening will be done by screeners of the Transportation Security
Administration, which is part of DHS. Amtrak and MARC passengers
will be screened from 5-10 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday
and from 3-6 p.m. on Sundays. WMATA Canine teams will also be conducting
random explosives screening of Metro passengers.
Amtrak and MARC passengers boarding at New Carrollton will be
asked to place bags and other carry-on items on a conveyor belt
for screening. A bag may receive additional screening as necessary.
will be asked to walk through a portal. In the portal they will
for a few seconds and will feel several quick “puffs” of
air. A computerized voice will tell them when to proceed. If necessary,
a person may receive additional screening.
Because the pilot program focuses on explosives, passengers will
be able to carry many items through the screening checkpoint that
are prohibited on aircraft, such as scissors and pocketknives.
Also unlike airport screening, passengers will not need to divest
themselves of cell phones, keys, change and other metal objects
before being screened.
“I know we can count on the cooperation of Amtrak and commuter
rail passengers,” said Rear Adm. David M. Stone, TSA’s
Acting Administrator. “Effective partnerships are the key
to combating terrorism.”
TRIP is expected to yield important data on customer wait times,
the effectiveness of screening equipment in a non-climate controlled
environment, cost and impact on Amtrak and MARC operations.
“Maryland is honored to participate in this pilot program,
which is intended to make rail travel a safer experience without
sacrificing convenience for travelers,” said Maryland Governor
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “The State of Maryland stands firmly
with the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation
Security Administration in this important endeavor.”
Secretary Ridge, in his March 22 announcement, targeted three
areas for enhancing rail security: Technological innovations, including
biological and chemical countermeasures; threat response capability,
which includes developing a Mass Transit K-9 Program; and public
awareness, including educational programs to make passengers, rail
employees and law officers more alert to potential threats.