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security comes down to earth

By enelson
Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 at 6:48 pm in Amtrak, Buses, high-speed rail, Security, Transit vs. driving.


While it doesn’t seem to excite much passion around these parts, I’ve been particularly interested in transportation security, especially after spending a good deal of time in the Holy Land back when a bus would blow up just about every other month.

While Israel doesn’t have a railroad system, it does have a line running north and south linking its coastal cities. When I was there, you couldn’t board a train without going having your bags checked and your body wanded with a metal detector.

Thus, when I saw a video put out by the California High Speed Rail Authority touting the $40 billion system’s advantages, I was a little confused. One of them, we are told, is that you won’t have to go through security and wait in those lines they have at the airport.

What? You don’t need security on trains? Does anybody remember Madrid? It wasn’t in Beirut that they blew up those trains and killed 191 people and wounded nearly 10 times that number.

The only major differences between Spain and the United States, considering that they’re both well-developed Western nations, is that Spain is closer to North Africa, while the United States is closer to the hearts of the bombers.

To be fair, it was true when that video was made that American passenger railroads did very little to keep potential bombers off of trains.

Now, however, that would appear to be outdated. Amtrak just announced that it was going to start checking passengers and their luggage.

I’m not sure what it’s supposed to accomplish, as it’s supposed to be “random” and won’t be done at every station at all times. I’ll let the experts determine how many fish a very porous net will catch.

More significantly, the move suggests that we aren’t going to wait until a train blows up until we make an effort to protect passengers.

The good news is that we don’t use public transit much, so the bombers may decide to expend their efforts elsewhere. I fear, however, that there will be a time when we may be emptying our pockets of metal when we leave the morning. 

Vidcap of Madrid bombing from

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