This report presents an analysis of information relating to attacks, attempted attacks, and plots against high-speed rail (HSR) systems. It draws upon empirical data from MTI’s Database of Terrorist and Serious Criminal Attacks Against Public Surface Transportation and from reviews of selected HSR systems, including onsite observations. The report also examines the history of safety accidents and other HSR incidents that resulted in fatalities, injuries, or extensive asset damage to examine the inherent vulnerabilities (and strengths) of HSR systems and how these might affect the consequences of terrorist attacks. The study is divided into three parts: (1) an examination of security principles and measures; (2) an empirical examination of 33 attacks against HSR targets and a comparison of attacks against HSR targets with those against non-HSR targets; and (3) an examination of 73 safety incidents on 12 HRS systems. The purpose of this study is to develop an overall strategy for HSR security and to identify measures that could be applied to HSR systems currently under development in the United States. It is hoped that the report will provide useful guidance to both governmental authorities and transportation operators of current and future HSR systems.

Publication Date


Publication Type



Transportation Security/Counterterrorism

MTI Project



High-speed rail, Attacks, Bombings, Accidents, Security