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If you want to pack heat on Amtrak, you have to tell the railroad a week in advance, stow your weapon in a locked container and check it into the luggage car. If you’re caught carrying a concealed weapon hoo boy are you in trouble. It’s a different story on the Virginia Railway Express (VRE), where commuters have been carrying since September 2009. Some before that. According to, sometime post-911 (2002), the railway created “an undercover rider program similar to the air marshal system on the nation’s airlines. In exchange for free rides, the mix of armed Secret Service, FBI and Homeland Security officers agree to stay alert on their commutes and respond as needed. Every train has a designated officer . . .

VRE officials know which trains they ride and more or less where they sit, [VRE spokesman Mark Roeber] said. Their rail passes have special markings that indicate to the conductors who they are and they share a code of when to respond in emergencies.

All they have to do is “agree to stay alert”? No special training? In that case, the VRE should offer a discount to all of their riders with a CCW permit. As should Amtrak. Just sayin’.

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  1. Hell; they BETTER be offering free rides .. for $8.10 each way, there’s no way in Hades I’m commuting on the VRE – I’ll stick with my drive to the Metro station..

    One note .. being “alert” on the VRE or Metro makes you stand out like a sore thumb.. just about 70% of riders are passed out catching ZzzZzz’s during their commute..

  2. What’s interesting here are the possibilities it suggests. How about offering:

    –discounted tuition to college students who carry and remain alert (no stacking Zs in class)
    –extra days off or increased equipment/supply budgets for K-12 teachers who carry at work
    — . . . . . ?

  3. You know what would be really cool… having air traffic controllers stay alert and not fall asleep on the job. Maybe we could, I dunno, write that into their job requirements or something.

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