House gets rail security bill

House gets rail security bill

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., introduced rail security legislation Tuesday that would establish eight regional federal rail security managers and authorize $4.5 billion in security grants and programs.

Although not explicit in its title, the Rail Transit Safety and Security Act of 2004, the bill would cover freight operations as well as passenger rail, a Lynch spokesman said. The measure would require the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a thorough vulnerability assessment of the U.S. rail system.

The eight rail security managers would be tasked with sharing threat information and working with local officials to implement comprehensive security plans.

The bill would authorize $2.5 billion for capital security assistance grants to help fund tunnel and perimeter protection systems, explosives detection, and surveillance and other equipment needs. Another $1.35 billion would be authorized for operational security assistance grants.

In addition, the bill would authorize $50 million for research and development of new rail security techniques and equipment.

Lynch said the proposal incorporates recommendations and concerns gathered during an April summit on rail security.