SoCal Rail Corridor a Prime Target for Terror
Alameda Corridor East shutdown would cost economy $414 million per day, report says
LOS ANGELES - Foreign terrorists have put a high priority on attacking strategic rail corridors, such as the Alameda Corridor East, because of the impact such attacks would have on the economy and the ability of the military to mobilize.
According to a report recently published by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (LAEDC) and the Rand Corporation, a shut-down of the Alameda Corridor East - one of the country's most important intermodal-rail lines - would cost the US economy a staggering $414 million a day, while a month-long closure would cost more than $12.4 billion.
"Southern California has become the nation's primary gateway for two-way international trade," said Christopher Becker, executive director of the Orange North-American Trade Rail Access Corridor. "The Alameda Corridor East rail lines moved about $116 billion in goods based on the manufacturer's value in 2002."
The Alameda Corridor East system carries 16% of the nation's freight by tonnage and 6% by value.
According to sources, more than a third of the nation's waterborne container traffic moves through the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach, which, if combined, would form the third largest port complex in the world.
Currently, about 40% of those containers are shipped by rail via the Alameda Corridor East to points throughout the US.
More than 35,000 trains - many of them a mile or more in length - move through Southern California every year, carrying considerably more than $100 billion worth of goods and 60 million passengers."
Since 1998, there have been 90 attacks on trains and rail networks overseas, and a handful in the US, the report said.
"Although the freight rail network has not yet been exploited by any substantial acts of terrorism, recent FBI warnings about al-Qaida's apparent interest in rail attacks should be cause for concern," the report said.
The nation's rail network, it said, "is vulnerable, with 143,361 miles of track, over which much of the traffic that flows is scheduled, predictable and impossible to secure."
About 40% of the country's inter-city freight, half of its hazardous materials and more than two-thirds of the coal used to generate electricity is moved by rail with nearly 200 military installations requiring access to commercial rail lines.
"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 Wally Baker, senior vice president of the LAEDC, commenting on the report.
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