Chief Hanson Shares Tips for Safe Holiday Travel


With the busy holiday travel season around the corner, we sat down with Amtrak’s Chief of Police Polly Hanson to get her insight on staying safe on the rails. Chief Hanson heads the Amtrak Police Department (APD), which is charged with protecting Amtrak passengers, employees, facilities and equipment. Whether it’s with K9 teams or uniformed officers or plain clothes officers, APD conducts counter surveillance, random passenger baggage screenings, and intelligence collection around the clock to ensure the safety of the traveling public.

But what are some of the common-sense things passengers can do to keep themselves and their belonging safe?

“One common mistake is that many passengers walk away from their iPhone or electronics while charging. Our stations are open to the general public, and people who may not be our customers come through these areas looking for valuables. Whether it’s the boarding area or food courts, it’s best to keep belonging secure. Similarly on the train, if you’re leaving your seat or your sleeper, it’s best to take your belongings with you. We want you to be safe with us on the rails, and contact Amtrak if you have anything to report by texting at APD11 (27311) or by calling the APD at (800) 331-008,” notes Chief Hanson.

Her top three tips?

First, tag your bag. This identifies your belongings so they are not considered suspicious or a security threat if left unattended, but it also makes them easier to find if you should lose it or misplace your bags. As an example, sometimes people leave their electronic toothbrush in their bag and it goes off, making other travelers nervous. If we know whose bag it is, we can quickly diffuse a stressful situation and ensure that belongings get back to their original owners.

Second, don’t leave your bagUnattended baggage or backpacks  are a top security concern. In order to stay safe, passengers should not only keep their luggage with them at all times, but if they spot K9unattended baggage call (800) 331-0008 Txt-a-tip to APD11, or report any suspicious baggage or activity to Amtrak police at your station or on your train.

Third, mind the gap. Watch for spaces between the train and the platform, and familiarize yourself with the space aboard train cars. If you’re overwhelmed with luggage, consider using our Red Cap service. Escalators and areas where passengers catch cabs are also places where injury to self or others can occur. Use all hand rails or services meant to make the transportation of yourself and your bags easier and safer.

Lastly, “Everyone’s leaving at the same time during the holiday season. Getting to the station early is critical,” says Chief Hanson. Print your ticket or have it displayed on your phone, ready and easy for the conductor to read. Also, be sure to sign up for service alerts at the time of ticket purchase online, or check the Amtrak app for your train status.

APD: Keeping you safe on the rails one day (and train trip) at a time.