EUGENE, Ore. -- Even though there aren't security screeners, passenger trains have had their share of threats to public safety.
In the past decade, terrorists have targeted train depots and railway systems in London and Madrid. Railway security was in the headlines again in the weeks leading up to the Winter Olympics in Sochi when a suicide bomber detonated her explosive device in a Russian train station before reaching security screeners.
Police officials evacuated an entire train and the downtown Eugene Amtrak Depot last November because of a possible bomb threat. Amtrak said they’ve had another evacuation at the downtown depot in the last three years because of someone observing threatening behavior or a suspicious package.
Amtrak spokesman John O'Connor said the company uses tracks owned by Union Pacific - a freight train company with its own police force. O'Connor is a Police Chief with Amtrak's smaller police force, whose jurisdiction starts when a passenger steps aboard a train.
Amtrak also launched 'Operation Rail Safe' for areas like Eugene, where local law officers respond on behalf of their police force.
“Presence by law enforcement as well as observant citizens who report suspicious activity to law enforcement ensures better travel and a safer community altogether,” said Chief Sean Marschke of the Wisconsin Amtrak Police.
She added that their conductors are trained in police and safety procedures and act like an Air Marshal would on an airplane.
Passenger Joe Leonhardt said he prefers traveling by train because he can avoid the long lines at airport security checkpoints.
“I’ve seen security things before, but I've never felt very threatened,” said Leonhardt.
“I think everything is fine the way it is, and people worry an awful lot when they don't need to,” said fellow passenger Anne Rutledge.
When it comes to airport-like mass screenings, said train stations would grind to a halt with an influx of passengers.
The west coast headquarters for Amtrak's police force is based in Oakland, Calif., but the agency says their officers can respond to major incidents in Oregon and Washington if needed.