Congress Steps up Interest In Protecting Our Nation's Rail System In The Wake of Spain Terrorist Bombings - Senate Reviewing California's report and the Nation's Only Rail Homeland Security Study

Senate Commerce Committee and House Select Committee Tackle Potential Threats To U.S. Rail System In The Aftermath of The Deadly Spain Bombings.

     Los Angeles, CA — The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing today (Tuesday, March 23, 2004) on rail security in the wake of the terrorist bombings of commuter rail lines in Madrid, Spain, earlier this month that injured 1,500 and left more than 200 dead.

     The first time study was commissioned and published in cooperation with the Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor (OnTrac) Joint Powers Authority and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC). The study was completed as part of the environmental review process for the Alameda Corridor East strategic rail system that goes through Placentia, California. It is currently under review by the Rand Corporation, Santa Monica.

     The report notes there are 230,000 kilometers of rail lines in the United States and it says security needs to be improved along key transit points. The report's authors suggest that a portion of customs revenues collected at the ports be used to finance the improvements.    

     “The threat of terrorism is real on strategic rail corridors with passenger and freight rail service and we believe that Al Qaeda's apparent interest in rail attacks should be a call to action,” said Counterterrorism Expert Elsa Lee, who contributed to the report released last year (9-11-03) on the anniversary of the Twin Towers tragedy entitled: “OnTrac Trade Impact Study: National Economic Significance of Rail Capacity and Homeland Security on the Alameda Corridor East.” (

     OnTrac Executive Director Chris Becker, who testified last year at the Congressional Railroad Committee Hearings believes Washington should provide more flexible funding for environmentally beneficial rail projects, and significantly more funding for mega projects and grade crossing programs like Alameda Corridor East.

     “The Alameda Corridor East rail lines moved about $116 billion in goods based on the manufacturer’s value in 2000,” said Becker. “The street value was much higher for these products. The street values of rail cargo traveling on the Alameda Corridor East in 2000 were $166 billion.”

     The LAEDC predicts a train every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, and seven days a week will travel along the Alameda Corridor East by 2025.

     "With this much potential economic disruption, the federal government must consider providing a specific new funding category for strategic rail trade corridors in their next Transportation and Homeland Security reauthorizations,” said Senior Vice President Wally Baker, Public Policy and Consulting, LAEDC. “It is a national economic and security issue that Congress and the White House should fix with legislation and programs."
     42nd District Congressman Gary Miller (R), Orange County, CA, who is a big supporter of the Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor (OnTrac) Joint Powers Authority and who’s district its in said, “People throughout the United States and the world count on shipping freight to and receiving freight from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach via the transcontinental railway.” “The economically vital artery, which runs directly through Placentia, CA, is responsible for $250 billion in trade. More than 50 trains per day travel through the Orangethorpe rail corridor, with rail traffic expected to increase to 135 per day by the year 2020.”

     “I have requested federal funding in the reauthorization of TEA 21 for the construction of this critical project,” said Miller. “This legislation is scheduled to be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks. I appreciate your continued involvement and support in enhancing Placentia’s transportation network,” said Congressman Miller. The House Select Committee On Homeland Security began reviewing the OnTrac/LAEDC Rand Study last Friday.

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Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor (OnTrac) Joint Powers Authority Quick Media Sheet On Rail Study on Homeland Security

•The OnTrac LAEDC Study shows Terrorism is a real threat on our on nation’s Rail Corridors

•A 10-day shutdown of the Alameda Corridor East, as a result of a terrorist attack, would be like the economic impact of the West Coast ports shutdown last October. A 30 Day shutdown would amount to more than $4 billion.

•Disruption cost of shutting down the Alameda Corridor East amounts to $414 million each day that it is shut down.

•The Dept. Of Defense has designated the rail lines out of the Southland as strategically critical national assets due to moving of heavy military equipment. The study concludes that at least 30 percent of Customs revenue should be dedicated each year to strategic rail corridors across the country. Right now nothing is reinvested.

•The study suggests adding rail capacity and addressing the security of the national rail system, specifically the Alameda Corridor East is vital not only for Los Angeles, but for cities like Chicago, New York, Las Vegas and Houston.

•Local efforts to deter and respond to terrorist attacks should be a serious effort by communities along the Alameda Corridor East. Those cities should become part of the federal, state and local funding cycles like airlines, transit and highway monies.

•The study suggests that California has become the nation's primary gateway for two-way international trade. Communities along the Alameda Corridor East need to adopt security measures and the mindset that the federal government has had for years in protecting our national security.

•The data from the OnTrac study should be used to evaluate the allocation of Homeland Security funds, because funding rail projects like the Alameda Corridor East is a vital to our nation’s interest.

•OnTrac is urging Congress to establish a new section of the Federal-aid Highway Program to fund goods movement projects of national economic significance.

•Southern California has become the nation's primary gateway for two-way international trade. The Alameda Corridor East rail lines moved about $116 billion worth of goods in 2000 alone.
OnTrac - is Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor (OnTrac) Joint Powers Authority Southern California's gateways are the entry way for so much of what moves the U.S. economy, and what fuels our modern way of living, but less known are the impacts of these gateways, and the related rail corridors in sending products overseas.

The combined impact of trade through the region's system is impressive: four states alone - Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas - trade a total of more than $50 billion worth of international goods through Southern California ports and rail trade corridor network.

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