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Madrid bombing heightens concerns about Pa. rail security

(The BLETís Pennsylvania State Legislative Board issued the following news release on March 11.)

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The March 11 terrorist bombing on three Madrid train stations that claimed the lives of more than 180 people and injured at least 900 others has emphasized concerns about Pennsylvania's rail security.

"This attack shows that railways are prime targets for terrorist attacks," said Ken Kertesz, Pennsylvania State Legislative Board Chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. "Whether it's a passenger train or car carrying poisoness chemicals, a lot of damage can be done."

The attack, which included a total of ten bombs exploding during Madrid's Thursday morning rush hour, has been labeled the worst terror attack in Spanish history. Reports say that dead bodies covered the train station platforms and the wounded sat on surrounding curbs and benches waiting for buses, which were used as ambulances.

"These terrorist actions are exactly what we fear. There hasn't been much done since 9/11 as far as railroad security goes and it's not inconceivable that this could have been Harrisburg, Philadelphia or Pittsburgh," Kertesz said.

Kertesz and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen have been working in Harrisburg for more than a year to help move this important homeland security legislation forward.

"As engineers we are the first line of defense against terror attacks on freight and passenger trains across the state," Kertesz said. "We are working on an industry-wide initiative to address a very complex and important security issue."

The BLE represents 1,200 locomotive engineers who operate freight and passenger trains in Pennsylvania.

Kertesz joined the Pennsylvania State Police, Norfolk Southern Railroad, and others to testify earlier this year before the PA House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee on the subject of rail security for the state of Pennsylvania.

Terrorist attacks against rail systems have recently occurred in Russia, India and Pakistan and the FBI reported last year that Al Queda operatives in U.S. were found to be gathering information about rail systems in the northeast.

Friday, March 12, 2004

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