TSA Administrator: No need for airport-like security for rail travel

Key Points
  • The TSA Administrator says no airport-like security is needed for rail travel.
  • TSA Administrator David Pekoske visited New York City to meet with transit and Amtrak officials.
  • The agency is 'satisfied' with current security measures.
Passengers getting off an Amtrak train.
Getty Images

Airport-like security screenings are not necessary for Amtrak or other rail travel, the new head of the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday, speaking a day after eight people were killed in a truck attack in Lower Manhattan.

"We don't intend to roll out anything like what we have in the airports," TSA Administrator David Pekoske told reporters at Grand Central Terminal. "We are satisfied at his point."

Random checks of passengers, police and security officers and canines at rail terminals are among measures currently sufficient to protect those areas, without having to screen every passenger, like at an airport, he said.

Pekoske said one priority is ensuring that there is a "continuous vetting process" of the more than 5 million people enrolled in the TSA's PreCheck program, which provides access to speedier security lanes and less invasive screening at airports in exchange for $85 and a background check.

"It's not just a check on your background" when you enroll, he said.

Pekoske, who took the reins of the Department of Homeland Security arm in August, was in New York City for a previously planned meeting with officials from the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Amtrak.

New security rules went into effect last week for air travelers on U.S.-bound flights. Targets for attacks in recent years, however, have included areas that are far less protected than those beyond the security checkpoints. For example, the attacks in the Brussels Airport occurred in a departure hall in March 2016 and there was a shooting at the baggage claim area at Fort Lauderdale's main airport in January.

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