For quite some time Amtrak has been the refuge of those wishing to avoid the annoyance of the TSA security charade at airports, especially in the NE corridor, where the travel time is comparable on the train or by air. That may be coming to an end with the introduction this week of “roving security teams” that will set up tables on or near the train platforms, similar to the way the MTA does for the NYC subways. The Amtrak TSA crews will apparently have trace detection machines (swab your zippers and look for traces of explosive residue). Only if you alarm the machine will your bag be inspected, or so they claim. Also, not everyone will be searched at any given station. Oh, and they may have bomb-sniffing dogs on the trains every now and then. This change in security posture is in response to “no new or different specific threat,” according to Bill Kummant, Amtrak’s CEO, which translates to me as they need to spend some money and also step up in the fear-mongering or risk having their budget reduced next year.
As long as they keep the bar car open I’m OK, I guess, though I still don’t like the “security for show” path that Amtrak seems to be following the airlines down.
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