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Canada: Via Rail: heightened security

Via Rail confirmed Wednesday it is beefing up security in response to what it called an “unsubstantiated” threat.

CBC News has learned the rail passenger service is bringing in the RCMP and sniffer dogs for an elevated police presence at some stations starting Wednesday, including at Toronto’s Union Station.

“For some time now, passenger transportation companies globally have been the target of unsubstantiated threats against their facilities,” Via said in a statement. “A threat of this nature was received at Via Rail recently and the police were informed.”

Via spokeswoman Marie-Anna Murat said in an email to CBC News that although this threat appears to be a hoax, Via still needs to be careful.

Via said it has also reminded employees to be “vigilant.”

The Ontario detachment of the RCMP referred CBC News to national RCMP headquarters in Ottawa for further details. No one from the national force was immediately available for comment.

CBC’s Steve Rukavina reported Wednesday morning that there was no visible police presence at Montreal’s Central Station and that passenger trains were running on schedule.

Passengers unconcerned

Passengers at Union Station told CBC News they weren’t concerned.

“I’ve worried about before because they don’t check bags,” said Darian Dermo of Guelph, Ont.

“I would prefer if they checked bags — maybe a metal detector or something,” she said. “But I’ve taken the train five or six times in the past year and I feel safe. It’s a good trip.”

Ian Thornhill, visiting from the U.K., said, “I think the train would be safer than a plane nearly at this stage. This’ll be faster and cheaper and safer, I think.”

A spokeswoman for Ontario transportation agency Metrolinx said there had been no increase in security at Union Station on Wednesday because there was no “founded” threat.

“That being said, we are always extremely vigilant,” Anne Marie Aikins said in an interview with CBC News. “Our staff are always on the lookout for anything suspicious. They’re the eyes and ears of our system, as are our customers.”

Current security measures, she said, are “sufficient.”

“It’s kept us safe, and we take all kinds of efforts to secure the system itself — our trains, our stations, our platforms — but we’re always looking for ways to increase those efforts.”

However, airport-style screening would be impractical given the millions of people who move through the system each day.