Committee Passes Rail Security Act

April 8, 2004

Washington, DC – The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today adopted by voice vote, S. 2273, the Rail Security Act of 2004. Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Hollings (D-SC) introduced this bill on April 1, 2004. The Rail Security Act of 2004 would authorize additional resources for the purpose of securing our rail transportation system against terrorism. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, only modest resources have been dedicated to rail security, and the recent events in Europe suggest that our transit system, Amtrak, and the freight railroads could be vulnerable to attack. This legislation would direct the Department of Homeland Security to complete a vulnerability assessment of the rail transportation system and make recommendations for addressing security weaknesses within 180 days of enactment. It would also authorize appropriations to meet immediate security needs for intercity and freight rail transportation, including funding to address the longstanding fire and life safety needs of several Amtrak tunnels along the Northeast Corridor. Further, as recommended by the General Accounting Office, the proposal would require DHS to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Transportation to make clear each department’s roles and responsibilities with respect to rail security. The following amendment was passed by voice vote: · An amendment by Sens. McCain and Hollings would enlarge the size of the grant program from $250 million to $350 million, make colleges, universities, and research centers available for grants, modify the grant program to ensure that funds be distributed equitably, request a study on the impact of blocked railroad grade crossings on security, and prohibit a railroad from discharging or discriminating against an employee for bringing to the railroad’s attention a perceived threat to security, or for testifying before Congress or at any federal or state proceeding on a perceived threat to security, as well as other minor technical changes. ###