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Rep. Castle pushing for rail security funding

(The News Journal posted the following article by Ginger Gibson on its website on June 8.)

WILMINGTON, Del. -- An amendment to the Homeland Security Appropriations bill could increase funding for national rail security by $50 million -- boosting the total in the proposal to $200 million. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., said state railways and ports will receive a portion of the federal money if approved.

The bill is designed to increase funding for port, rail and urban area security, fund the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program and provide additional grants for fire departments.

Castle, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Rep. Steve Lynch, D-Md., attached the amendment to increase rail security before the bill was approved by the House.

The bill is being considered by the Senate.

The Homeland Security funding includes $200 million for port security, $200 million for rail security, $750 million for high-threat, high-density urban areas, $20 million for the identification program, $650 million for fire departments and $945 million for general security grants.

The identification program, which began in 2002, conducts background searches of Wilmington port employees and provides identification cards for port workers.

"We are very lucky that [a rail] attack has not taken place in the United States and we now have a great opportunity to be proactive and begin adequately funding rail and transit security in this country," Castle said in a statement. "I believe my amendment sets forth a course for achieving this goal and is a critical provision that works to protect American travelers."

Ron Edwards, district manager for the Wilmington station, said he does not know if any of the money has been designated for Delaware stations.

Edwards said if given a portion of the federal money, he would like to see an increase in police, dog patrols and surveillance cameras at the Delaware stations.

"Everyone would like to see that kind of stuff -- that's standard," Edwards said. "My bottom line, I would like to see the traveling public travel in safety. What that costs -- I don't know, but bottom line is that's what I would like to see."

Thursday, June 8, 2006

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