Wait, Amtrak Is Still Operating?

1203452508I’m not a huge fan of Amtrak. For starters, a ticket from Boston to, say, Philly will run you almost as much as a seat on U.S. Air. Why pay to be inconvenienced by delays on a five-hour train ride when you can pay to be inconvenienced by delays on a quick flight?

Besides, the last time I road the rails, some drunken college kid urinated all over the floor next to me. OK, OK, he was a buddy of mine, but have some couth, you know?

Anyway, point is, Amtrak is a relic — if you ride the train, you probably have a Walkman or think “duck and cover” is still a groovy idea. But don’t worry, old timers, Amtrak is going to make sure that no desperadoes rob the caboose.

I was kind of hoping the recent strike talks would cripple Amtrak for good. No dice.

Now comes word that Amtrak — in the hopes of currying favor with riders who are struck dumb with fear over terror attacks — will implement random bag searches. It’s going to start happening at stations all around the country, including right here in Boston.

Amtrak plans to roll out the new “mobile security teams” first on the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, the most heavily used route, before expanding them to the rest of the country.

The security teams will show up unannounced at stations and set up baggage screening areas in front of boarding gates. Officers will randomly pull people out of line and wipe their bags with a special swab that is then put through a machine that detects explosives. If the machine detects anything, officers will open the bag for visual inspection.

Amtrak says its schedule won’t be affected at all by the random searches, and that it’s mindful of delays. Uh-huh.

Now boarding the Acela to D.C on Track 5…but first, make sure Fido sniffs your junk.

Just out of curiosity, what happens if someone refuses to be screened?

Anybody who is selected for screening and refuses will not be allowed to board and their ticket will be refunded.

In addition to the screening, counterterrorism officers with bomb-sniffing dogs will patrol platforms and walk through trains, and sometimes will ride the trains, officials said.

In the future, looks like my buddy will have to relieve himself elsewhere.