Amtrak increases rail security after scare

June 15, 2011 2:44:40 PM PDT
Amtrak is stepping up security along its tracks in our area and nationwide to protect against possible sabotage and terrorism.

The announcement comes as the FBI investigates the intentional tampering of a switch box along an Amtrak route in Iowa over the weekend.

Without discovering it, officials say a train could have derailed.

Amtrak's Chief of Police, John O'Connor, says the extra security will be focused on the Northeast Corridor. Specific changes include giving passenger trains the right of way on rail lines and focusing on trying to detect improvised explosive devices near tracks.

O'Connor also said protecting stations is difficult, but protecting thousands of miles of train track is even more challenging.

The security announcement comes in the wake of the raid to kill Osama bin Laden. The Navy SEALs who stormed the al Qaeda leader's compound in Pakistan uncovered intelligence that said al Qaida was plotting to derail trains in the United States.

In Philadelphia, Amtrak police who normally patrol 30th Street Station were reassigned to the field, with supervisors filling the gap. Passengers were taking this news in stride.

"I'm hoping that, because the northeast corridor is their most travelled area, that they would focus the most security here, so I feel better about it," said Kelly Stapleton of Malvern, who travels to New York at least five days per week.

"I try not to think about it, to be honest. Anything could happen anywhere," said Rose Rykowski of Denver, Pa. "For the most part I try to keep my thoughts on getting where I need to go."