VIA Rail searching carry-on bags at Manitoba town

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THOMPSON, Manitoba — VIA Rail has begun searching the carry-on baggage of passengers boarding trains from Thompson, Man., CBC News reported. The searches are being conducted to check for alcohol after a number of assaults against employees and other passengers.

In a letter to community leaders in northern Manitoba, including the City of Thompson, VIA Rail general manager of regional services Michael Woelcke said in the last three months, there had been a number of “unfortunate incidents where customers have consumed their own alcohol on board VIA’s trains. This resulted in assaults against VIA employees and other passengers.”

Passengers are now being asked to arrive at least one hour before departure and carry-on bags will be checked to see if they contain alcohol or any other object that could endanger passengers and employees.

The letter was read at a council meeting in Thompson on May 8 and Mayor Dennis Fenske said people support the policy change. Fenske said he is concerned that Thompson’s small station may not have the infrastructure or staff to carry out the protocols efficiently.

“It’s not like the Winnipeg airport where there’s a defined security area — you go through and get checked, there is X-rays and all that stuff,” he said. “Locally here, you are a small train station, there may be a ticket agent and there may be one conductor loading and so from that perspective, it’s not an efficient operation.”

He said the city would ask VIA about the best way to enact the new protocols. VIA could not confirm whether there would be changes to staffing in Thompson. The letter to the City of Thompson said the baggage policy came into effect May 8.

VIA Rail operates tri-weekly service between Winnipeg and Churchill with stops at Thompson.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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