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Bay Area railroad security keeps close watch

(The following appeared on the San Francisco Chronicle website on May 8, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Homeland Security officials warned that Osama bin Laden may have been eyeing a terrorist attack on an American commuter railroad, but officials who run Bay Area trains are reassuring passengers that they keep close watch.

Evidence found in bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan revealed that al Qaeda leaders had general discussions about a possible attack on a commuter train on the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a Department of Homeland Security advisory released Thursday.

Notes found after bin Laden's killing disclosed plans to sabotage rails at an undisclosed location to cause a derailment and send a commuter train plunging off of a bridge. The bulletin, according to the Associated Press, described the plot as in the early stages and lacking detail. It said no active or specific threat was indicated.

Still, railroad officials said, they're being vigilant about protecting their rails, though they would offer few details of security measures.

Caltrain, the Bay Area's busiest commuter line, hauls more than 41,000 passengers a day between San Francisco and Gilroy. Its rails are patrolled by its own police force, which is trained by Homeland Security, and all employees receive special training.

But spokesman Mark Simon said the railroad has a strict policy of silence when it comes to security.

Full story: San Francisco Chronicle

Monday, May 9, 2011

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