Reporting Steve Sandberg
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Rail riders are now more on edge than ever after two major security breaches over the weekend which come just days after officials warned that al-Qaeda could be targeting trains across the nation.
In one instance, a man reportedly jumped into the PATH tunnel at the World Trade Center station early Sunday and walked two miles underground. When police caught him emerging in Jersey City the man claimed to have planted a bomb on the tracks.
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In an unrelated incident, four men in their 20s sneaked underground into the Second Avenue Subway tunnel just before dawn Sunday, officials said.
MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the men climbed into an unused underground tunnel which is not conncted to the rest of the transit system or part of the current Second Avenue project. The tunnel, built in the 1970s, is just north of the area which is currently under construction.
The men reportedly told police officers they were members of an “urban explorers” group and were planning on setting off Roman candles to light up the tunnel to take pictures.
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The men have been charged with criminal trespass.
“There is no tolerance for any of this,” Walder said. “In these difficult times there is nothing at all humorous about these types of situations. It’s something we do take seriously.”
Last week, intelligence seized during Sunday’s raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound revealed a plan in the works to target the nation’s rail system, possibly on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Federal officials said there was no evidence the plot ever fully got off the ground but the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin, putting security teams and commuters on alert.
It’s all enough to make passengers more than a little anxious.
“It’s very unnverving cause I ride the train everyday, my sister rides the train, sometimes my wife rides the train,” Matt Newell said. “I don’t want to have to call my wife at the end of the day and say ‘I can’t come home some crazy person blew up the train.’”
“When something happens people will get more serious, it would be nice if people would get a little more serious before something happens,” Lee Berthelsen, of Oceanside, said.
Sen. Charles Schumer has suggested a “no-ride” list, similar to a “no-fly” list. He says if used properly it’s a valuable tool that would cost virtually nothing yet increase security on the rails dramatically.
If convicted, what is the appropriate punishment for these “urban explorers?” Sound off below