Sen. Schumer proposes "no-ride list" for Amtrak trains

NEW YORK Sun May 8, 2011 3:56pm EDT

An Amtrak train attendant looks over paperwork on the 5 California Zephyr train in Chicago June 12, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

An Amtrak train attendant looks over paperwork on the 5 California Zephyr train in Chicago June 12, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senator on Sunday called for a "no-ride list" for Amtrak trains after intelligence gleaned from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound pointed to potential attacks on the nation's train system.

Sen. Charles Schumer said he would push as well for added funding for rail security and commuter and passenger train track inspections and more monitoring of stations nationwide.

"Circumstances demand we make adjustments by increasing funding to enhance rail safety and monitoring on commuter rail transit and screening who gets on Amtrak passenger trains, so that we can provide a greater level of security to the public," the New York Democrat said at a news conference.

U.S. officials last week said evidence found after the raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan indicated the al Qaeda leader or his associates had engaged in discussions or planning for a possible attack on a train inside the United States on September 11, 2011.

Schumer, citing U.S. intelligence analysts, said attacks were also considered on Christmas and New Year's Day and following the president's State of the Union address.

He called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expand the Secure Flight monitoring program, which cross-checks air travelers with the terror watch list in an attempt to prevent anyone on the "no-fly list" from boarding, for use on Amtrak.

Such a procedure would create an Amtrak "no-ride list" to keep suspected terrorists off the U.S. rail system, he said.

The September 11 Commission recommended in 2004 that the government check travelers' names against terror watch lists before they board passenger trains or cruise ships, but such a program was not adopted.

Schumer noted that rail and port security grant funding was cut by $50 million under last month's federal budget compromise, but he said developments warrant reconsideration and increased rail safety funding.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)