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Public Statements

Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

RAIL AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ACT OF 2007

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Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Chairman, I want to begin by thanking Chairman Bennie Thompson, Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, and Ranking Member Peter King for their great work on this bill.

This amendment actually strengthens the worker training requirements contained in H.R. 1401, the Rail and Public Transportation Security Act, by ensuring that Congress is kept informed of the progress that must be made in rail and mass transportation providers providing basic security training to their front line workers.

Specifically, this amendment would require the Secretary of Homeland Security within 1 year of issuing the worker training guidance mandated by section 109 of this bill to submit a comprehensive progress report to Congress on the steps that rail and mass transit entities have taken to meet the bill's worker-training requirements.

Notably, this report must also include the result of a worker survey conducted by the Department on whether our front line rail workers and mass transit employees have actually received basic security training.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment stems from the reluctance on the part of the Department of Homeland Security and the rail industry carriers to make worker training a priority.

Back in November, Chairman Thompson and I addressed the National Rail Symposium here in Washington, a rail security conference attended by rail workers, union representatives, industry experts, and transportation scholars. The symposium marked the release of a key rail security study prepared by the National Rail College which noted that our Nation's rail workers continue to lack basic and necessary emergency and anti-terrorism training.

The National Labor College study came on the heels of a 2005 Rail Worker Safety Report prepared by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Rail Security Conference based on over 4,000 surveys completed by the members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way employees. Regrettably, that report revealed that 84 percent, of rail workers surveyed had not received any terrorism prevention training within the last year, and that 64 percent had not ever been trained in their railroad emergency response plan.

Mr. Chairman, reports that our locomotive engineers, our train crews, conductors, track workers, bridge and building trade employees, our electricians and all other front line rail employees have not received basic security training, are particularly troubling, given that the pattern of terrorist activity around the globe continues to be markedly centered on rail and mass transit.

You can follow the pattern of attacks, Mr. Chairman. Whether it be in 1995 with the sarin gas attacks in Tokyo, the 1995 attacks by the Algerian rebels in Paris, the 2004 suicide bombings of the Moscow metro rail car by Chechen separatists, the 2004 Madrid train bombings, the 2005 London train bombings, or recently the 2006 Mumbai train bombings, terrorists have indicated that this is a preferred area of terrorism, and there is no indication that there is any let-up here. Their willingness to execute bold attacks on rail and transit systems worldwide continues.

Yet despite these lessons learned, our rail and mass transit workers still lack basic and necessary security training, and since 9/11 we have spent over $24 billion on aviation security versus less than $600 million on rail and transit. The Rail Security Summit that we had in Boston not long ago revealed the fact that very few of these workers have been trained at all.

Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, as well as the main bill, bipartisan legislation that is the result of good work on the part of Chairman Thompson, again Ranking Member King of the Homeland Security Committee, as well as Chairman Oberstar and also Mr. Mica, the ranking member of the Transportation Committee.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Chairman, just on the point of the risk analysis and the risk-based strategy here, I do want to note that in our rail conference, our summit on rail security, at one point I did ask the union representative of Amtrak and some of the train crews that were present where they worked. They explained they are the train crews that travel on the trains that go beneath New York City. They run the Northeast corridor from basically Boston to Washington, D.C.

I asked them if they had been trained on evacuation procedures in the tunnels beneath New York City and they explained to me that, no, they had not been trained on evacuating train passengers from the maze of tunnels beneath New York City. I think reason and experience would agree that that is something that would be included in our risk-based strategy.

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