OTR Interviews

How vulnerable are trains in America to terror attacks?

Thwarted attack on Paris-bound train sparks new fears of terror on the tracks within the US


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 24, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: That thwarted attack, well, it instills great pride in Americans, also giving a reality jolt that terrorism like that could happen here on our trains. How vulnerable are American trains?

Joining me is former vice president of security for Amtrak, Bill Rooney.

Bill, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Well, they got lucky in France with those three Americans and a Brit. How vulnerable are our trains?

Well, Greta, right up front, let me also say well done. They did a tremendous job out there.

To answer your question, I would talk a little bit about what probably still goes on in a board room when you are planning a corporate policy. There is always a debate about security. Do we have too much? Are we scaring passengers? Are we this? Are we that?

You can't have an on and off strategy about security. In my opinion what you need to do is you need follow-through. And when you have a security policy, you need follow through. You run into mind sets and very quickly let me say one of the mind sets is it can't happen here. Why? It's never happened here.

Second mind set is that, in effect, I don't do windows, not my job. I sell tickets. I run my trains, hopefully on time, but I don't do security. And so it's an ongoing debate. Then you get additional insight from people making corporate decisions saying it's not a money-maker, it's not a money- maker. It's a business cost.

At the end of the day, we do need security. This is a wakeup call. In my opinion, we've had a number of them in the mid, you know, last decade, regarding bombings in Madrid, London, you name it, Moscow, Mumbai.

VAN SUSTEREN: And it's not just trains, it's also -- it's subways. Trains just because there are trains here in this. But, you know, we have a huge -- a lot of people ride subways in this country. It's not just trains.

ROONEY: Correct. Correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: But, you know, I can't imagine that we are going to check every package of everybody who gets on every train and subway every single day. I mean, thousands and thousands in this city alone.


ROONEY: But on that point, Greta, you cannot check every one but you can check some. And if the bad guy is in and he or she is targeting, they will look at security procedures in place. The more you can show an alertness, an awareness, of vigilance, the safer your passengers are traveling that train.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I assume the more we give passengers sort of the nod, the go ahead and act in a sense that, you know, like -- because the passengers is sort of the best police.

ROONEY: The point I make on that from an operational point of view, Greta, is don't mix this up. It's Sleepy Hollow. This is a real setting. There are people coming after us and they would like to do harm without a doubt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Bill, thank you. Nice to talk to you, sir.

ROONEY: My pleasure, Greta.