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Homeland Security

Transit and Rail Inspection Pilot (TRIP)

The Department of Homeland Security implemented a pilot program in March 2004 to test the feasibility of screening luggage and carry-on bags for explosives at rail stations and aboard trains. The initial program was implemented in three phases at rail stations with commuter rail service in partnership with the Department of Transportation, Amtrak, the Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC), and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The pilot program would not resemble an aviation-type solution to transit and rail, but rather provide the Department with a venue to test new technologies and screening concepts. The lessons learned from the pilot could allow transit operators to deploy targeted screening in high threat areas or in response to specific intelligence.

The program was conducted in three phases:

  • TRIP Phase I occurred at the New Carrollton, Maryland, rail station and evaluated the use of technologies for screening rail passengers and their baggage prior to boarding a train.
  • TRIP Phase II occurred at Union Station in Washington, D.C., and tested the use of screening equipment for checked baggage and cargo prior to their loading onto an Amtrak passenger train, as well as screening of unclaimed baggage and temporarily stored items inside Union Station.
  • TRIP Phase III occurred onboard a Shoreline East commuter rail car. The goal of Phase III was to evaluate the use of existing technologies installed on a rail car to screen passengers and their baggage for explosives, while the rail car is in transit. Passengers will have their tickets or other document placed in a machine that will analyze it to determine if there are traces of explosives present. TSA screeners will also conduct an x-ray examination search of carry-on bags and if necessary, a passenger or his carry-on may receive additional screening.

The TRIP study is a joint effort of DHS, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Amtrak, MARC, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The pilot is also one of the initiatives which DHS Secretary Tom Ridge announced to provide another tool for threat response capability.

Screening was done by screeners of the Transportation Security Administration, which is part of DHS. Amtrak and MARC passengers were screened from 5-10 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 3-6 p.m. on Sundays. WMATA Canine teams were also conducting random explosives screening of Metro passengers.

Amtrak and MARC passengers boarding at New Carrollton were asked to place bags and other carry-on items on a conveyor belt for screening. A bag may have received additional screening as necessary. Passengers were also asked to walk through a portal. In the portal they would stand still for a few seconds and feel several quick "puffs" of air. A computerized voice would tell them when to proceed. If necessary, a person may have received additional screening.

Because the pilot program focusedon explosives, passengers were still able to carry many items through the screening checkpoint that are prohibited on aircraft, such as scissors and pocketknives. Also unlike airport screening, passengers did not need to divest themselves of cell phones, keys, change and other metal objects before being screened.

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