KEITH JOHNSON
The Wall Street Journal
May 11, 2011

PITTSBURGH—Long before papers found at Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout revealed a plot to attack U.S. railroads, security experts warned that the nation’s 140,000 miles of track presented an attractive—and difficult to protect—terror target.

Passengers riding Amtrak, commuter rail or subway systems face little of the routine security screening Americans have come to know at airports. And once out of the station, every mile of track presents a potential security vulnerability.

The much-larger freight-railroad system also presents a daunting set of security challenges. Hazardous materials crisscross the U.S. and pass through major cities, often on tracks protected by little more than no-trespassing signs.

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