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Where We Stand

Fact Sheet

Securing Our Nation's Rail Systems

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 7/7 London subway bombings, and the Madrid rail bombings, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken several steps to manage risk and strengthen our nation's rail and transit systems. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 7/7 London subway bombings, and the Madrid rail bombings, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has taken several steps to manage risk and strengthen our nation’s rail and transit systems by:


While the majority of mass transit systems in this country are owned and operated by state and local government and private industry, securing these systems is a shared responsibility between federal, state, and local partners.  Since 9/11 the Administration has provided significant resources to bolster these security efforts.  Funds from DHS grants programs may be used for planning, training, equipment, and other security enhancements.  DHS has provided roughly $18 billion in awards to state and local governments for programs and equipment that help to manage risk.    

Roughly $110 Million Will Be Awarded To Major Rail Systems This Year Alone:   This year, the eight largest mass transit rail systems in the country have been awarded $103 million in security grant assistance.  Eligibility announcements for further awards have been made and final grant awards to these systems will be made later this year, bringing the total to roughly $110 million.

This year, the eight largest mass transit rail systems in the country have been awarded $103 million in security grant assistance.

Nearly $375 Million Has Been Provided to the Nation’s Mass Transit Systems:  Through the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), DHS has provided $374.7 million to date to 60 of the country’s rail mass transit, ferry, and intra-city bus systems in 25 states and the District of Columbia.  In addition to this funding, states and localities can, under certain conditions, tap into other Homeland Security Grant Program and Urban Area Security Initiative funds for rail security projects and initiatives.  The FY06 Tier I awards for this program have been announced.  Tier II’s awards will bring the program’s total to approximately $388 million in grant assistance to our partners.

Through the Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP), DHS has provided $374.7 million to date to 60 of the country’s rail mass transit, ferry, and intra-city bus systems in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

 Largest Recipients

 FY03-06 Awards (Rounded)

FY03-06 Awards (Rounded) 

New York City

 $150 Million


National Capital Region

$38.3 Million


Chicago, IL

 $36.3 Million


Boston, MA

 $29.1 Million


San Francisco Bay Area

 $27.3 Million


Philadelphia, PA 

 $25.8 Million


Los Angeles, CA 

 $20.5 Million


Atlanta, GA 

 $8.6 Million


$13.6 Million in Security Grants Have Been Provided to Amtrak:   Through the Inter-City and Passenger Rail Security System, Amtrak is being provided $7.2 million in FY06 awards for significant security enhancements along the Northeast Corridor, their Chicago hub, and for expanding enhancements to the West Coast Service Area. Prior to this grant cycle, Amtrak has been awarded $6.4 million through this program


DHS is training various teams including law enforcement personnel, canine teams, and inspection personnel for deployment to deter and protect against potential terrorist actions.

Developing Visible Intermodal Protection Response (VIPR) Teams: Consisting of Federal Air Marshals (FAMs), Surface Transportation Security Inspectors, canine teams, and advanced screening technology, these teams provide DHS the ability to leverage a variety of resources quickly and effectively.  These deployments are designed to raise the level of security in any mode of transportation anywhere in the country.  The teams work with local security and law enforcement officials to supplement existing security resources, provide deterrent presence and detection capabilities, and introduce an element of unpredictability to disrupt potential terrorist planning activities  14 VIPR exercises have been conducted at key commuter and regional rail facilities this year alone, and more are planned for the near future. 

Training Reliable and Tested Canine Teams For Deployment Across the Nation:   30 explosives detection canine teams are being trained, certified, and deployed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to 10 major mass transit systems.  22 of these teams are currently online.  These teams provide strong detection and deterrent capabilities and can be sent quickly to key junction points across systems, stations, terminals, or other facilities. 

Providing Mass Transit Inspectors to Our Largest Rail Systems:   Through the Surface Transportation Security Inspection Program (STSI), TSA has deployed 100 inspectors, assigned to 18 field offices across the country, to provide support to our nation’s largest mass transit systems.  These officials perform frequent inspections of key facilities including stations and terminals for suspicious or unattended items, among others potential threats.  Inspectors are actively engaged in performing Security Analysis and Action Programs (SAAP), which constitute a systematic examination of a stakeholder’s operations to assess compliance with security requirements, identify security gaps, develop best practices, and gather information on the system, its operations, and its security resources and initiatives. 

Providing Training to Local Authorities:   TSA has funded eight Land Transportation Anti-Terrorism Programs (LTATP) conducted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) for FY 2006.  The LTATP program provides training to local authorities in protecting land transportation infrastructure including rail, light rail, mass transit, and bus operations.  Attendees at this training consist primarily of local law enforcement and transit system security directors and security coordinators.  Thus far in FY 2006, 180 of these officials have completed the LTATP. 


DHS is developing a number of screening techniques and technologies which could be implemented or deployed quickly to systems facing a specific threat, or in support of major events such as National Security Special Events (NSSEs).  Other pilots and studies are also underway in major American cities. 

Developing and Deploying Chemical Detection Equipment:   Comprising advanced chemical detection equipment and camera networks, the PROTECT system is designed to detect a chemical attack.  The system also links with local emergency response assets to improve response time and capability.  The system is currently deployed in segments of the Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston rail systems. 

Testing Mobile Security Checkpoints:  This mobile “checkpoint” equipment, which can fit into two standard size shipping containers, could be rapidly deployed for use in screening and detection at any major system in the country. 

Developing New Surveillance Camera Systems:   TSA and S&T are leading a project to develop software designed to detect human anomalous behavior for use with surveillance/CCTV camera systems.

Protecting the 7-Mile DC Rail Corridor:  Through the Preparedness Directorate’s Office of Infrastructure Protection, the National Capital Region Rail Security Corridor Pilot Project is designed to meet the needs of local law enforcement, first responders, and the federal government while supplementing the existing security measures of freight rail operations in the Washington DC area.  The pilot project will include numerous components, including a virtual security fence that will detect moving objects, perimeter breaches, left objects, removed objects and loitering activity.  Data from the fence and the gates will be encrypted and transmitted simultaneously to multiple locations, such as US Capitol Police, US Secret Service, CSX and other applicable federal or local agencies. 

Evaluating New Explosive Detection Equipment:  Through S&T’s Rail Security Pilot (RSP), DHS is field testing the effectiveness of explosives detection techniques and imaging technologies in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Conducting the Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot:   The Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP), launched in March 2004 and in partnership with the Department of Transportation, Amtrak, the Maryland Rail Commuter, and the Washington DC Metro Transit Authority, used advanced explosives detection equipment and canine patrols to screen thousands of passengers and bags.   

Conducting the Baltimore Rail Security Study:  S&T, in partnership with the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), is conducting a study of a detection technology and its ability to identify explosive compounds on passengers before they board a train.  The detection system is designed to detect explosive residue on passengers when they select their ticket before boarding a train. If a residue is detected, the system activates further capabilities to alert security or law enforcement authorities of the potential threat. A passenger who activates the explosives detection system would be directed to a secondary screening area for additional evaluation.

Conducting Operational Tests and Evaluations:  The Systems Support Division (SSD) of the DHS Office of Grants and Training (G&T) has conducted operational tests to evaluate manufacturer claims on ballistic resistant trash receptacles and published a report of its findings to help ensure mass transit systems, among others, have the facts needed to guide critical procurement decisions.  Similarly, SSD has also published a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Technology Handbook to provide a reference point on current CCTV technologies, capabilities and limitations.


Thousands of criticality assessments have been conducted by TSA, in cooperation with federal, state, local, and private security partners, to determine best practices, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities across the nation.

Completing Thousands of Criticality Assessments:   TSA has completed over 2,600 criticality assessments for systems across the nation, including 848 for rail systems and 1,778 for mass transit systems.  50 Site Assistant Visits (SAVs) have been completed across the nation’s mass transit, bus, tunnel, and terminal systems.  132 Buffer Zone Protection Plans (BZPPs) have also been completed. 

Providing Technical Assistance:  Through the Office of Grants and Training, the Department has provided technical support to over 25 major transit systems, as well as Amtrak, to assist these agencies in developing risk management strategies to guide the expenditure of scarce security dollars.  This assistance both maximizes the impact of DHS funds and allows these agencies to develop robust internal planning mechanisms for leveraging their own resources to support system-wide risk reduction.

Performing Rail Corridor Assessments For Hazardous Materials:   In High Threat Urban Areas (HTUA) rail corridors, DHS components are conducting assessments where hazardous materials may pose significant risks.  In these processes, DHS cooperates closely with the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and relevant railroads and private entities.