TSA to require freight railroads to provide training addressing terrorist threats

Rail employees involved in higher-risk freight rail operations must now be trained to watch for terrorist-related threats, according to a new rule from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The rule, which goes into effect on June 22, calls for the owners and operators of higher-risk freight rail carriers, public transportation agencies, passenger railroad carriers and over-the-road bus companies to provide TSA-approved security training to employees performing security-sensitive functions, according to a March 23 notice in the Federal Register. The training must teach employees how to to observe, assess and respond to terrorist-related threats and/or incidents, the notice said.

The TSA calculated that the rule will cost freight railroads $25.09 million to implement over the next 10 years. The agency estimates about 33 freight railroads must comply with this final rule, including all of the Class I railroads.

“The purpose of this rule is to solidify the baseline of security for higher-risk surface transportation operations by improving and sustaining the preparedness of surface transportation employees in higher-risk operations, including their critical capability to observe, assess and respond to security risks and potential security breaches within their unique working environment,” according to the notice. “In developing this rulemaking, TSA recognizes private sector capabilities, voluntary initiatives, and other Federal requirements to raise security within distinct surface transportation operations.”

One Comment

  1. I note that the TSA acknowledges “voluntary initiatives.” In Nevada local sheriff’s Rail Auxiliary Teams receive 1.5 hours of rail specific terrorism awareness training, with monthly updates, to enhance their ability to effectively and efficiently report situations on the tracks.

Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.