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Amtrak ‘security surge’ includes random bag checks

(The following story by Peter Mucha appeared on the Philadelphia Inquirer website on September 9, 2009.)

PHILADELPHIA — Two days before the 9/11 anniversary, Amtrak is initiating a one-day "multi-force security surge" along the Northeast Corridor that includes "random passenger bag inspections at unannounced locations," according to the Transportation Security Administration.

More federal, state, regional and local officers will patrol stations and ride trains, and more dogs will be sniffing for explosives, said a news release.

No threat or incident is behind this "exercise of expanded counterterrorism and incident response capabilities," part of an operation called ALERTS, which stands for Allied Law Enforcement for Rail and Transit Security, the agency said.

The exercise, which aims to improve coordination among many law-enforcement and security agencies, will cover about 150 rail stations in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

"We look forward to conducting more of these operations in the future, varying in size, timing, and location," said John Sammon, a TSA assistant administrator.

Other parts of the nation's rail system, or portions of the Northeast Corridor, might be the focus of future measures.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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