Based on intelligence indicating that Al Qaeda and associated movements continue to express interest in attacking US mass transit systems, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a redacted version of a classified report on “explosives detection technologies [that] are available or in development that could help secure passenger rail systems.”
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Technology Assessment: Explosives Detection Technologies to Protect Passenger Rail
GAO-10-898 July 28, 2010
Passenger rail systems are vital to the nation's transportation infrastructure, providing approximately 14 million passenger trips each weekday. Recent terrorist attacks on these systems around the world--such as in Moscow, Russia in 2010--highlight the vulnerability of these systems. The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the primary federal entity responsible for securing passenger rail systems. In response to the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2008, GAO conducted a technology assessment that reviews 1) the availability of explosives detection technologies and their ability to help secure the passenger rail environment, and 2) key operational and policy factors that impact the role of explosives detection technologies in the passenger rail environment. GAO analyzed test reports on various explosives detection technologies and convened a panel of experts comprised of a broad mix of federal, technology, and passenger rail industry officials. GAO also interviewed officials from DHS and the Departments of Defense, Energy, Transportation, and Justice to discuss the effectiveness of these technologies and their applicability to passenger rail. GAO provided a draft of this report these departments for comment. Four departments provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.
Source: GAO; Homeland Security Today