Railway Alert Network (RAN) Situational Awareness Message: Suspicious Incidents Involving Two Persons Claiming to be FRA Employees

Roadway Worker Training, Inc. was recently made aware of the AAR Railway Alert Network Situational Awareness Message reproduced in its entirety below.  In light of the 2 incidents described in this Situational Awareness Message, RWT is taking this opportunity to remind our clients that when entering or working on railroad property:

  • Ensure that you have the appropriate authorization to enter railroad property, and
  • Ensure that you have the appropriate credentials in your possession and are able to produce them upon request by the proper authority

The full text of the Situational Awareness Message is as follows:

Railway Alert Network (RAN) Situational Awareness Message: Suspicious Incidents Involving Two Persons Claiming to be FRA Employees

July 26, 2011

Dissemination of the Transit and Rail Intelligence Awareness Daily (TRIAD) that presented details of a suspicious incident prompted identification by another railroad of similar activity and advisories to rail police and employees to assure awareness and reinforce fundamental security procedures.

The July 19 TRIAD conveyed the report that Canadian Pacific (CP) made to TSA’s Transportation Security Operations Center (TSOC) on suspicious activity at a rail bridge. In summary, at approximately 1335 hours Central time on July 16, two individuals approached CP’s Menomonee Bridge in Milwaukee, WI. As they came up to the bridge tender, the two men identified themselves as FRA employees and stated they were there to “inspect” the bridge. The alert rail employee responded by asking the pair for their identification – precisely the right action. In reaction, the two men returned to their vehicle, ostensibly to obtain their identification. Instead, they reentered the vehicle and drove away from the area.

The CP employee immediately reported the incident, providing CP Police Special Agents with a description of the two individuals and the vehicle – a grey sedan. Though he was not able to discern the license plate number, his timely reporting, with as much detail as observations allowed, again represents precisely the right action.

CP properly reported the incident to TSOC to meet the applicable regulatory requirement at 49 CFR Section 1580.105. This report informed the July 19 TRIAD article that, on broader dissemination, implicated a similar incident that had occurred on Union Pacific (UP) property in the greater Los Angeles, CA, area.

Though the activity there remains under investigation, some details can be conveyed. At approximately 2030 hours Pacific time on July 17 – about 31 hours after the incident at the CP bridge in Milwaukee – a UP Manager of Yard Operations in Long Beach observed two male subjects sitting in a grey, four-door sedan watching UP train crews switching tank cars. After monitoring the pair for a period of time, the yard operations manager drove his vehicle toward the two individuals and, from his vehicle, asked them who they were. In response, they stated they were with the FRA and were there to watch the crews work. The manager asked the two men for their identification, then moved his vehicle to park it safely and get out to review the credentials. As he was turning to park, the two subjects drove away from the scene.

The manager contacted FRA, which stated it did not have any of its personnel on official duty in the area. Apparently, the FRA notified the TSOC of this impersonation incident.

Though they may be unrelated, the similarities between these two incidents warrant attention. In each case, two males, operating a grey sedan, observed rail operations or sought access to rail property, claiming they were FRA employees. In each case, FRA is adamant that it had no employees on official duties in either area.

In light of these events, in a model likely emulated by other railroads, UP has provided awareness briefings to employees, describing the similar incidents and reinforcing the importance of essential security procedures:

  • Request credentials of ANY person claiming to be an official government inspector or employee (FRA, TSA, DHS or other agencies)
  • When observing a suspect vehicle, write down or otherwise record the description (type, color, make, model, number of doors) and license plate number
  • Stay vigilant for suspicious people, behaviors, activities, and objects at and near rail operations and infrastructure
  • Report these potential security concerns to the railroad’s communications or operations center, in accordance with standing procedures
  • Review those procedures in awareness briefings with employees to ensure familiarity

Please feel free to use the content of this message in pre-shift, safety, operations, or other awareness briefings with employees at all levels. You may also share this message with local law enforcement and Federal liaison in your operating areas.

Association of American Railroads

Railway Alert Network

425 3rd Street, S.W.

Washington DC 20024

202-639-2910 Emergency

866-494-4353            “

202-639-2950 Non-Emergency