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U.S. orders Amtrak, all commuter rails to increase security

(Bloomberg News circulated the following story on May 20.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered Amtrak, the nationwide passenger service, and operators of commuter trains to boost security against terrorism by increasing inspections and the use of bomb-sniffing dogs.

The measures, which come more than two months after almost 200 persons died in commuter-train attacks in Madrid, include the removal of garbage cans at some locations unless they contain clear plastic bags and are bomb-resistant. The directive takes effect Sunday and didn't stem from any specific threat, agency spokesman Darrin Kayser said in an interview.

``Millions of Americans travel by rail every day and recent world events highlight the needs to ensure they are kept safe from acts of terror,'' Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border and transportation security, said in a statement.

Rail transit operators such as Washington, D.C.'s subway system already are using bomb-sniffing dogs, Kayser said. The measures were issued to provide rail operators with ``best practices,'' Kayser said, including designation of employees at each agency as primary department contacts.

The homeland security department has allocated $115 million the past year for rail security and is testing technology to detect guns and explosives at a suburban Washington station. Employees and riders are being asked to report unattended property or suspicious behavior.

Friday, May 21, 2004

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