THE US Department for Homeland Security is to spend $10m on a pilot project designed to prevent terrorists from bringing bombs or chemical weapons within a few hundred metres of the Capitol, where the US Congress meets.

To be completed in 18 months, the project is driven by a desire to placate local politicians in the District of Columbia, who attempted earlier this year to ban CSX from carrying hazardous freight on its lines that run under the heart of Washington.

CSX agreed to re-route hazardous freight on a voluntary basis pending an appeal against the ruling on the grounds that it conflicted with federal law. The threat to rail traffic across America if individual states, or even cities, were at liberty to ban hazardous rail freight clearly could not be allowed to go unchallenged. A judicial decision is awaited.

The Washington project applies to 12 km of the CSX line between the yard adjacent to Reagan National Airport, on the south bank of the Potomac River, and Benning Road yard in Northeast Washington. Around 300 CCTV cameras will be deployed in the two yards and along the designated route, and before trains are permitted to leave either yard they will be scanned by radiological, biological and chemical sensors.

Numerous alarms detecting entry to the railway will be installed, with many of the CCTV cameras designed to pick up any movement. Authorised trains, vehicles and personnel are to be issued with electronic identification cards that will suppress any alarms which they generate within the security zone.

  • Following the four suicide bombs detonated on a bus and three London Underground trains on July 7, and a failed attempt to launch four similar attacks on July 21, services were fully restored throughout the LU network from August 4 when the Piccadilly line was re-opened between Hyde Park Corner and Arnos Grove.

    In the USA, the terrorist threat for metros was reduced from Orange to Yellow on August 12, although New York’s MTA said it would continue random baggage searches. BART in San Francisco said it would keep Orange precautions in place for now. APTA put the cost of higher security on urban public transport nationally since July 7 at $0·9m/day.