Less Timely Train Travel May Be in the Future
New safety measures are in consideration to implement for Via Rail travelers in Canada.
By: Katie Smith, Staff Writer
This past April, transportation company Via Rail thwarted an al Qaeda terrorist plot that planned to derail its train travelling from Ontario to New York. Chiheb Esseghaier, a 30-year-old Tunisian immigrant, and Raed Jaser, a 35-year-old Palestinian, were arrested in connection with the planned attack following a counter-terrorist investigation conducted by Canadian officials. According to those officials, the attack was thwarted in the planning stages.
While no Via Rail passengers were in immediate danger, this open-ended terrorist attack is not without consequences. The transportation company has begun discussions regarding increased safety measures for passengers.
There are currently safety measures like random searches and baggage X-rays in place at Via Rail stations. However, officials feel as though an increase in security measures would benefit travelers. These new measures would include more baggage screenings, identification checks, and an increased presence of sniffer dogs. They would also extend to the route that Via shares with Amtrak, an American railway company.
Via Rail provides year-round transportation services regardless of weather conditions over 12,500 kilometres of track that stop at 159 stations across Canada. Because of its volume, Via Rail’s finances would take a huge hit in implementing these new security measures. To alleviate the cost, Via would have to appeal to the federal treasury for funding. Via would also look to its American equivalent Amtrak for assistance, especially considering Amtrak’s experience with security following the 9/11 attacks.
While the safety measures are intended to benefit passengers, some people are not pleased with the idea of more complicated travel. Those against the amendments argue that the attack intended to bomb the tracks rather than the train itself, thus making internal security meaningless and a waste of time and money.
Via has not yet reached a decision regarding all of the company’s safety measures, but staff members have already undergone stricter training in reading body language and more intense certification processes to ensure train travel is safe in the meantime.
Katie Smith is a rising third-year student at Boston University. She also writes for the Campus section of BU’s lifestyle magazine The Buzz and is interning at Seal Press in Berkeley, California.
The National Post
Photography Courtesy of Robert Taylor.