Transportation Security Tightened as a Result of London Attacks

Transportation systems in the United States were placed on orange alert in response to the terrorist attacks in London that killed at least 50 and injured over 700 in four separate bombing attacks on July 7.

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell announced that transit systems in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were on orange alert level. This affects regional and inter-city passenger rail, subway and bus systems in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as well as ferries with more than 150 passengers. The alert does not include commercial rail or airport systems.

"Despite the cowardly attacks abroad on our allies in Great Britain, our mission remains clear: to protect the safety and security of all Pennsylvanians," Rendell said. "Although there is no specific identified threat to the U.S. homeland, including Pennsylvania, elevating the alert level specifically to mass transit systems in major metropolitan areas is the prudent course of action in light of the terrorist events in London.

Faye Moore, general manager of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA), said she had the same message for SEPTA customers as she told her family: "The goal of terrorists is to create public panic and fear. If we surrender to that fear, we are surrendering our freedom. I rode the train to work this morning, and I will ride it home at the end of the day. I believe the SEPTA system is safe."

Moore said that since 9/11 and last year's terrorist attack against the transit system in Madrid, SEPTA has worked closely with city, state and federal authorities to upgrade the security of the transit system as much as is practicable.

While no rail-specific threats have been identified, the nation's freight railroads have moved to a higher state of readiness in light of the tragic London subway bombings. The increased measures include deployment of additional police officers and K-9 teams to key areas, as well as elevated vigilance along the U.S. freight rail network.

"This is a precautionary step that is part of the industry's security plan," said Ed Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads. "We continue to work closely with all government agencies to ensure that we are receiving and sharing the best possible information about potential threats and prevention measures."

The railroad industry worked with experts in counter-terrorism and intelligence on a security plan that focuses broadly on hazardous materials, operations, infrastructure, information technology, and military movements. Among its many features, the current security program includes:

  • A 24/7 operations center that links the railroads with the appropriate national security intelligence officials,
  • Improved monitoring of designated trains, including those carrying hazardous materials,
  • Security enhancements to computers and software, including new encryption technology for selected data communications,
  • Tightened supply chain logistics in cooperation with certain customers.
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