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Rail Security and Safety comments from our CEO or staff

Letter to the Editor and the Rail Auxiliary

Rich Gent - Saturday, February 02, 2019

I was recently published in a major railroad magazine about law enforcement and trespassing on railroad property.  In that letter to the editor I emphasize supporting law enforcement and in particular local law enforcement.  I also understand that local uniformed law enforcement is strapped thin and has to do more with less.  Realizing that local law enforcement is the key to persistent rail trespass abatement, combined with the fact that uniformed law enforcement officers are strapped thin, two county sheriff's departments embraced and developed a trained force multiplier to deal with railroad trespass.  These sheriff departments (Washoe and Storey counties) have teams specifically to provide trained eyes and ears on the tracks for their department.  These groups receive 8 hours of initial classroom and thereafter monthly training on rail public safety and security to include how to accurately provide time-critical reporting of rail trespass to not only the Sheriff’s dispatcher, but to the railroad as well.   To date, and realizing the numbers are small but a data point, the trespass incidents in one of these counties has dropped 66 percent.   Read Entire Article Here

Washoe Sheriff's Rail Auxiliary helps the homeless

Rich Gent - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
This Christmas and New Year holiday, the Washoe County Sheriff's Rail Auxiliary teamed up with the Reno Ambassadors to help the homeless who were hanging around the AMTRAK station in Reno, Nevada.  The "RAT Pack" were able to locate homeless individuals in and around the station prior to the arrival of passengers and alerted the Ambassadors who were immediately on scene to help these individuals find shelter.  This was a win-win for AMTRAK and the city.   Read Entire Article Here

Rail Auxiliary Team supports AMTRAK's RAILSAFE

Rich Gent - Sunday, December 09, 2018

This Fall as well as during the Thanksgiving holiday the Washoe and Storey County Nevada Rail Auxiliary Teams supported AMTRAK's RAILSAFE by monitoring a challenging highway-grade crossing and patrolling the Reno AMTRAK station.  Teams like this provide augmentation to the AMTRAK Police and serve the smaller cities and towns where AMTRAK operates.  Additionally, these teams do not put strain on the local law enforcement as trained and fully vetted and badge law enforcement volunteers.   A win-win for all. Read Entire Article Here

Al Qaeda Rail Threat

Rich Gent - Thursday, January 04, 2018

In August 2017, Al Qaeda (AQ) put out their "Inspire" magazine.  The magazine specifically focused on attacking the railroad infrastructure.  There were a couple of news articles and broadcasts about this and that was it.   What I found to be absolutely unbelievable was that in discussions with a senior law enforcement officer, this officer has no idea AQ was targeting the railroads.   Recently, it seems as if the intelligence community doesn't even share this info in between various agencies.  I am hoping like most of my blogs, that sometime down the road a news correspondent finds these blogs and wonders why wasn't anyone paying attention.   Read Entire Article Here

Rail Suicide Prevention

Rich Gent - Saturday, September 10, 2016

Two weeks ago the Washoe County Sheriff's Department Citizen Corps graduated more than 40 volunteers who are trained on reportable situations on the railroad tracks to provide rail awareness reports to local law enforcement (who normally respond to rail trespass situations) for possible response. The 6 hour course covered topics from basic railroad operations, rail safety, worldwide rail terrorist incidents and a cutting edge topic; "Prevention of Rail Suicides in our Community."   The one hour segment, taught by the Nevada Suicide Prevention Coordinator, covered topics of why people consider suicide, the local demographics for suicides (in this case Northern Nevada highest rate is males over 60), what to look for should they see someone by the tracks and how to report to the railroad/local law enforcement using milepost, control points or Emergency Notification Signs correlated to local community streets or landmarks.   Read Entire Article Here

Stabbing on Train

Rich Gent - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Well, it is only a matter of time before it gets to the United States.  We had a terrorist that stabbed numerous people on a train in Europe.  I keep thinking about the AMTK long distance trains and the lack of security at those remote stations.  With copycat Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVE) this could be the tactic they are looking for.  The solution is to augment those local police forces with a trained force multiplier that can be at those remote stations from time to time to make the problem harder for those (HVE's) trying to use these stations as a launching point.  More to follow. Read Entire Article Here

Explosives Stolen from CSX Train

Rich Gent - Friday, April 22, 2016

Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I knew this was going to happen and it did.  500 pounds of "fireworks grade" explosives stolen from a freight train.  What is really weird is that this happened two days ago and I just found out about it today, 4.22.16.  I'll keep listening to see if this does anything to get rail security moving forward or we will, like normal, do some short term fixes and the go back to normal.  I would like to applaud two railroads who recently had me talk about terrorism and railroads to their employees, that is the Northern Plains Railroad and Red River Valley and Western Railroad.  They, at least, had the foresight to train their people to look at things differently.  More to follow.   Read Entire Article Here

Trespass and Communications

Rich Gent - Sunday, February 14, 2016

Today I was walking my dogs by the railroad track and saw a white Dodge pick-up driving on the Maintenance of Way (MOW) road.  It was not railroad personnel, at least the truck did not have a railroad logo on it.  So, I called it in to the Risk Management Center.  The lady asked what I was calling about and I said I wanted to report a trespasser on railroad property.  I told her the railroad milepost and the sub-district as well as the location from the nearest town, the direction of travel, etc.  She seemed satisfied with all this information.  Now normally in the past when I have reported a trespasser the Dispatcher is on the radio and almost immediately notifying trains in the area; this time absolutely nothing.  So, I figured no trains in the area.  Then about 10 minutes later a Westbound Stack train rolls past.  I packed up the dogs and headed back home.  When I got back on the main road to head home, I noticed the local sheriff on the branch line which connects to the mainline where the trespasser was at.  So, obviously either the dispatcher sent the sheriff to the branch line or the sheriff didn't know that there was a main line too.  An obvious communication breakdown.  I guess it boils down to the risk management department being literally in a different time zone and communicating to a sheriff who is not fully trained on railroad operations.   Hot Rail is developing a solution to this communication break down called the Common Operational Picture (COP) which the military has been using for years.  Keep watching this webpage for developments.   Read Entire Article Here

Shotgun Shell in Coupler

Rich Gent - Monday, December 21, 2015
trained Read Entire Article Here

American's Disrupt Rail Terrorist

Rich Gent - Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thanks to courage and quick thinking, three American service members took down a terrorist on a French passenger train.  I truly hate to sound like a broken record but once again I am writing that it is not a matter of if but a matter of when it happens here in the United States.  I've attended and been a speaker at several rail security and safety conferences, discussed the terrorist threat in the U.S.  and either we (TSA, rail, state, local) law enforcement truly have a handle on the railroads and the terrorist threat or we are fooling ourselves.   I know that recently the FBI came out and said that they do not have a good handle on the Homegrown Violent Extremists (HVE) and that they rely very heavily on the use of the See Something Say Something campaigns.  This leads me to a statement by a terrorist expert when I asked him about this.  His comment will always stay with me; "ya know, no one thought a whole heck of a lot about airplanes on September 10th." Read Entire Article Here

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