Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Metro Red Line bomb threat highlights vulnerabilities of rail systems to attack

Sort of the hidden fact is that rail and light rail systems are successfully attacked more that aviation. One reason it stays hidden, is that we do not have a lot of answers for many of the vulnerabilities rail faces. Having worked with Rail security over the years, it has always been the under funded and least understood vulnerabilities of the transportation sector. Targeting can be everything from rail hubs to small platforms out in the country. Add to this the problem of the rails themselves. Back when I first studied explosives, rails was considered a major target. The Military on both sides of both WWI and WWII concentrated on rail lines for both attacks and trying to prevent attacks. One of my first technical assignments was to determine the proper spacing of explosive charges along rail tracks to damage a train. We had to conduct these for different sizes and gauges of track. In the US Secret Service most if not all Specialists had to go to Rail Security schools to understand a lot of the vulnerabilities. Of course we did the same for boats and ships with schools the Coast Guard provided. Bomb threats for rail has some unique problems, while developing bomb threat plans for Rail Companies for the IACP, we had to develop evacuation plans, most had to deal with the issue that you did not want the train to come into the stations for fear of hurting more people, but off loading passengers outside a station is not all that safe as well. The risk analysis could become tricky. But for those working these venues it takes some real professionals to keep us all safe.
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