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Eyes on the trains

(The following article by Joshua Robin was posted on the Newsday website on August 26.)

NEW YORK -- Checked baggage belonging to Amtrak passengers will be screened for explosives by federal agents at Penn Station during the Republican National Convention, the railroad said yesterday.

Passengers also will be required to put identification tags on all baggage, both checked and carry-on, Amtrak officials said.

The measures are intended to reduce the risk of attack at the station, which sits several stories below Madison Square Garden, the convention venue.

Amtrak spokeswoman Marcie Golgoski could not say how many bags are expected to be screened each day with X-rays and explosives detectors. The vast majority of Amtrak trains from Penn Station run on the Northeast Corridor and do not accept checked luggage. Six long-distance trains that have baggage cars leave Penn Station daily, compared with more than 100 Northeast Corridor trains.

Amtrak passengers can also expect to see law enforcement officers and bomb-sniffing dogs on trains, platforms and in terminals. The MTA, which runs subways, the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North, also expects law enforcement officers to ride trains entering the station.

Officers also will walk bomb-sniffing dogs through trains in rail yards before passengers board, and city police officers are expected to check each subway car before it enters Penn Station.

Most Amtrak trains running on the Northeast Corridor from Saturday to Thursday will require passengers to have a reservation, which should be made at least 24 hours in advance.

The only trains not requiring reservations will be the three weekend round-trip Keystone trains and the nine weekday round-trip Keystone and Clocker trains, which serve New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Golgoski advised passengers who are checking luggage to arrive at least an hour early.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

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