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Amtrak beefs up California security

(The following report appeared on the Tri-Valley Herald website on March 14.)

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Security officials have stepped up safety measures at Amtrak rail systems in California and BART in the Bay Area after the bombings in Madrid.

"We're totally vulnerable. I don't know why it hasn't happened yet," said Amtrak conductor Larry Lindbloom, who works the daily route between San Diego and Los Angeles. "I hope it doesn't."

Amtrak spokeswoman Sarah Swain, based in Oakland, said the rail system has increased security, boosting use of bomb-sniffing dogs as well as patrols by Amtrak officers in conjunction with freight operators and local authorities.

In the Bay Area, commuter Ray Egelhofer said he has long been concerned about the potential for attacks on BART. "It just seems like it would be a really easy target because there's not any security," he said.

He's not worried enough to stop taking the trains, he said, but "if it keeps happening, I'll start driving."

Another Amtrak representative, Dan Stessel, said electronic surveillance of bridges and tunnels was intensified and the company has again urged employees to report suspicious activities to police.

Lindbloom, the Amtrak conductor for 15 years, said train workers have expressed their concerns about security but seen little response.

"One of these days there's going to be a big orange flash and I'm going to walk back there, and there'll be 20 dead," he said. "It's terrible and all of these people are in danger."

Monday, March 15, 2004

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