As high-speed rail (HSR) planning in the U.S. comes closer to reality, issues regarding security become more critical. To help identify and address those issues, the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) has just published a research report, Formulating a Strategy for Securing High-Speed Rail in the United States.
UIC, which has the pleasure to participate in the work done by the Mineta Transportation Institute through the involvement of UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux as member of the Board of Trustees, welcomes this report.
MTI is a transportation policy research center created by congress in 1991 and affiliated with San Jose (CA) State University. The report’s principal investigator Brian Michael Jenkins and his team offer an analysis of information relating to attacks, attempted attacks, and plots against HSR systems. The report is available for free download at
The report draws upon empirical data from MTI’s proprietary Database of Terrorist and Serious Criminal Attacks against Public Surface Transportation and from reviews of selected HSR systems, including onsite observations. The report also examines the history of safety accidents and other HSR incidents that resulted in fatalities, injuries, or extensive asset damage to examine the inherent vulnerabilities and strengths of HSR systems and how these might affect the consequences of terrorist attacks.
“We divided this study into three parts,” said Mr. Jenkins. “First, we examined security principles and measurements. Then we conducted an empirical examination of 33 attacks against HSR targets, plus a comparison of attacks against HSR targets with those against non-HSR targets. And finally, we examined 73 safety incidents on 12 HSR systems. The purpose of this study is to develop an overall strategy for HSR security and to identify measures that could be applied to HSR systems currently under development in the United States.”
MTI expects that the report will provide useful guidance to governmental authorities and to operators of current and future HSR systems. It was co-authored by Chris Kozub, Bruce R. Butterworth, Renee Haider, and Jean-Francois Clair.
HSR has seen comparatively few attacks
While terrorist attacks aimed at trains and buses have increased over the past several decades, very few attacks have targeted HSR. To gain possible insights into the consequences of successful terrorist attacks against this travel mode, Mr. Jenkins said, this inquiry includes accidents and other HSR incidents that have resulted in injuries, fatalities, or extensive asset damage.
“The objective of the research is not to dictate security regimes,” he said. “Rather, it is to distill lessons from the history of accidents and terrorist attacks; to review security measures at existing HSR systems; to explore security-regime options; and to suggest principles for an overall security strategy.”
The report notes that now is the right time to initiate a discussion, as new HSR systems are being designed and built. This report is intended to inform that discussion by addressing several questions, including: Does HSR merit more security or different security measures than other passenger rail? Is it appropriate to consider reducing security for non-HSR passenger rail? What threats drive security concerns? What can be learned from HSR security in Europe and Japan? Several other questions also are addressed.
The report includes 15 figures, including several route maps specific to the incidents, and 11 tables, including HSR attacks by country, HSR bomb attacks by outcome, HSR incidents involving fatalities, and more.
About the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI):
MTI conducts research, education, and information transfer programs focusing on surface transportation policy and management issues, especially related to transit. MTI was established by Congress in 1991 as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and won national re-designation competitions in 2002, 2006 and 2011. The Institute is funded by Congress through the US DOT Research and Innovative Technology Administration, by the California Legislature through Caltrans, and public and private grants. In 2006 the US Department of Homeland Security selected MTI as a National Transportation Security Center of Excellence. The internationally respected members of the MTI Board of Trustees represent all major surface transportation modes.