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TSA pilots screening for MARC passengers

(United Press International circulated the following article on April 4.)

WASHINGTON -- The latest pilot project testing ways of screening rail commuters and their bags for explosives was launched this week in suburban Maryland.

The Transportation Security Administration said it would start using mobile security checkpoints at the Dorsey Road MARC commuter rail station on Tuesday, and continue until April 28.

The agency said screening would take place for four hours every weekday morning, ending at 9 AM, as part of an effort to determine the feasibility and costs of using mobile checkpoints to screen rush-hour commuters.

The screening will involve placing briefcases, laptops and other luggage, along with overcoats or other large items of outer clothing, on a conveyor like the ones used at airports, according to the Maryland Transit Administration.

Passengers will pass through an Explosives Trace Portal, which blasts puffs of air at them and then analyzes it, and an airport-style metal detector. But they will not have to divest themselves of cell phones, keys, change and other small metal objects. The Transportation Security Administration advised passengers to arrive at the station 10 minutes early to ensure they were get their train, and said special accommodations would be made for persons with disabilities.

The agency said it would use technology made by Smiths Detection at the temporary checkpoints.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

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