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Rep. Castle calls for beefing up transit security

(The following article by Mike Billington was posted on the News Journal website on July 13.)

WILMINGTON, Del. -- The bomb attacks on Indian commuter trains Tuesday have renewed congressional calls for beefing up rail security in the United States.

More than 200 people were injured in the attacks that occurred during the evening rush hour. The bombs were detonated in succession, a tactic used by Kashmiri militants in the past. All the bombs were placed in first-class railroad cars, possibly to avoid detection.

Police are less likely to inspect first-class passengers, according to men and women from Delaware who regularly travel to India on business.

Rep. Mike Castle. R-Del., said Tuesday that the attacks, which crippled India's financial capital of Bombay, are "yet another wake-up call for our own rail security system, which unfortunately remains extremely vulnerable to similar attacks."

An estimated 14 million commuters use public transportation systems daily in the United States, he said. In addition to commuter trains, the public transportation network includes buses and subways as well as ferries.

"While we are slowly making some progress in securing subways and regional rail, our homeland security in these areas is still far behind where it should be," Castle said.

"I do not want to see a day come when we have to look back with regret because of an attack on our own system," he said.

Castle noted that the 9/11 Commission years ago "emphasized the need for greater security on surface transportation."

The Government Accountability Office also recently released a detailed study highlighting the need to develop a comprehensive national rail security plan.

"I have introduced legislation to begin implementing these recommendations, and I believe it is crucial that Congress consider these provisions at the earliest date possible," Castle said.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

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