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Opinion: Railroad security still needs upgrades

(The following column by Jim Kouri appeared on the Conservative Voice website on August 17.)

The July 2005 London subway bombings and July 2006 railway attacks in Mumbai, India dramatically revealed the vulnerability of passenger rail and other surface transportation systems worldwide to terrorist attack and demonstrated the need for increased focus on the security of these systems.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Grants and Training has conducted risk assessments of passenger rail systems to identify and protect rail assets that are vulnerable to attack, such as stations and bridges. TSA has also begun to conduct risk assessments of passenger railways.

While TSA has begun to establish a methodology for analyzing and characterizing risks, as of January 2007, the agency has not completed a comprehensive risk assessment of the US passenger rail system, according to analysts with the Government Accountability Office.

Until TSA does so, the agency may be limited in its ability to prioritize passenger rail assets and help guide security investments. DHS has also begun developing a framework to help agencies and the private sector develop a consistent approach for analyzing and comparing risks among and across different transportation sectors.

However, until this framework is finalized, it may not be possible to compare risks across different sectors, prioritize them, and allocate resources accordingly.

Friday, August 17, 2007

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