On Wednesday March 28th, the House of Representatives approved an amendment offered by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) to The Rail & Public Transportation Security Act (H.R. 1401).  Lynch’s amendment would order the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a thorough assessment of the progress that rail and mass transit transportation providers make in providing basic security training to their front-line workers. 


Specifically, Congressman Lynch’s amendment would require within one year that the Secretary of Homeland Security submit a comprehensive progress report to Congress on the steps that rail and mass transit entities have taken to meet the worker training requirements in the Act.  The Department of Homeland Security must also conduct a worker survey on whether our front-line rail and mass transit workers have actually received this basic security training. 


Congressman Lynch, member of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, said, "Six years after September 11th, three years after the Madrid bombings, and two years after the bombings in London, the United States has still not taken the necessary steps to improve rail security,” said Congressman Lynch.  "This amendment will ensure that our rail workers receive terrorism prevention and response training, so that we are prepared to prevent and respond to a terrorist attack or disaster on the rails.”


In November 2006, the National Labor College (NLC), in conjunction with Citizens for Rail Safety, Inc., released a key rail security study entitled "Training in Hazmat and Rail Security: Current Status and Future Needs of Rail Workers and Community Members.”  That study found that our nation’s rail workers severely lack basic and necessary emergency prevention and response training. 


The NLC study came on the heels of a 2005 rail worker safety report prepared by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Rail Conference that revealed that 84% of the rail workers surveyed had not received any terrorism prevention and response training within the last year. 


Lynch added, "Whether it is the rail attacks in London, Madrid or Mumbai, terrorists have more than indicated their willingness to execute bold attacks on rail and transit systems worldwide.  There are five times as many people who travel by train as compared to those who use airplanes. But since September 11th, the United States has spent 60 times more dollars on airline security than on rail security.  Many of our rail systems have emergency response plans, but they’re worthless if rail workers don’t know they exist.  It’s time to establish clear guidelines for emergency training, and prepare our rail workers to respond to a terrorist attack.”

The Rail & Public Transportation Security Act was approved by the House of Representatives on March 29, and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.