Security Panel eyes rail infrastructure protection

Protection of the rail industry's infrastructure in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America was the focus of a "Security Panel" discussion at the Association of Railway Communicator's annual workshop in Tampa, Fla., on November 13.

Representatives from freight railroads, passenger railroads, and rail labor were on hand to discuss potential target areas and what could be done to protect them.

Representing the rail labor perspective on the Security Panel was Joseph A. Cassidy Jr., International Vice-President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. He was appointed to the position of Security Officer by International President Don M. Hahs in October of 2001.

The freight rail industry was represented by Steve Hanes, Director of the Norfolk Southern Police Department. Ernest R. "Ron" Frazier, Vice President of System Operations and Police Services for Amtrak, represented passenger railroads on the Security Panel.

A former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps who studied chemical and biological warfare, Cassidy said that employees are, indeed, in a partnership with rail management when it comes to security. He said that employees, if properly trained, could serve as the industry's first line of defense.

Relaying portions of a recent conference call between rail labor and Amtrak President George Warrington, Cassidy said that a particular concern of the rail industry is the protection of its infrastructure, especially bridges and tunnels. Cassidy noted that it could potentially bankrupt the rail industry to pay for security at all rail bridges and tunnels in the U.S. As a potential alternative, Cassidy suggested that watchful employees could serve as the industry's "eyes and ears" in safeguarding the infrastructure.

Cassidy said employees must be sensitized to security and must be made aware - like "mini-detectives" - of things that could be clues in identifying potential terrorist activity, as long as it did not interfere with the safe operation of trains. He suggested such training could come from police officers or government law enforcement officials.

The task of providing security in the rail industry is daunting. Cassidy said that in a recent meeting with Congressman Jack Quinn (R-NY), rail labor identified key railroad infrastructure in the United States that, if destroyed in a terrorist attack, could be more damaging to the U.S. economy than the loss of the World Trade Center.

Members of the "Security Panel" discuss protection of rail industry infrastructure during the annual workshop of the Association of Railway Communicators. From left: Ron Frazier, Vice President, System Operations and Police Services, Amtrak; Joe Cassidy, International Vice-President and Security Officer, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; and Steve Hanes, Director, Norfolk Southern Police Department.

 

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers