Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 15, 2006

TSA issues draft rail security regs

Filed under: Ground Transport Security — by Christian Beckner on December 15, 2006

TSA held a press conference this morning to release a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for rail security regulations. The complete draft regs are available at this link, and will be open for comment for the next 60 days. The press release describes the major measures within the regs:

The proposed rule is part of a package of new security measures that will require freight rail carriers to ensure 100 percent positive hand-off of Toxic Inhalation Hazard (TIH) materials, establish security protocols for custody transfers of TIH rail cars in the high threat urban areas, and appoint a rail security coordinator to share information with the federal government, as well as formalizing the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) freight and passenger rail inspection authority.

This AP story and this NYT piece discuss the draft regs and offer some initial reactions to them from Capitol Hill.

At first glance, the portions of the NPRM that deal with hazardous materials on freight rail look solid; this is a high-risk segment of the broader rail environment, and safeguards on the security and chain of custody of hazmat rail cars is needed, going beyond what has generally been a relatively solid effort to date by the freight rail industry. But the NPRM essentially punts the ball on the topic of passenger rail, beyond establishing some vague reporting requirements. While it’s true that passenger rail security is inherently difficult in comparison with aviation security, given the open nature of rail and transit systems, I would have expected more of a discussion of these passenger issues in the regs.

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