Moscow, Madrid, London, Mumbai — the datelines change but the story remains the same: terrorists target passenger rail systems with deadly effectiveness. Last week’s suicide bombing at a Moscow subway station, less than two months after al Qaeda recruit Najibullah Zazi pled guilty to plotting to blow up the New York City subway, was only the latest reminder that mass transit continues to be an attractive target for terrorists.
Since 1995 there have been 250 attacks on passenger rail systems worldwide, resulting in 900 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries. According to the American Public Transportation Association, more than 12 million commuters use such rail systems every day in the United States.
A report Friday by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner found that the Transportation Security Administration must improve the way it assesses emergency preparedness and response capabilities. The agency also should boost training for local rail agencies and first responders, the watchdog said.