The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held hearings on a proposed transportation security bill (S. 1052) that would require the Homeland Security Department to establish a task force to conduct a vulnerability and risk assessment of freight and passenger rail transportation systems. Based on that assessment, the department would then be required to develop specific recommendations for improving rail security. At the hearing, witnesses discussed the efforts that government agencies had thus far made to improve rail security. Joseph Boardman, administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, noted that the agency is in the process of developing regulations to secure railroad transport of toxic inhalation hazards. The regulations will ultimately require railroads to improve security plans, identify shipments, provide for temporary storage, ensure tank car integrity, and develop communications and tracking systems. During the question and answer portion of the hearing, funding was the foremost issue. Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK), asked why rail passengers were not paying for a portion of the security upgrades through increased fares.Those testifying at the hearing, including Cathleen Berrick, director of homeland security issues for the Government Accountability Office, said that necessary security upgrades must first be identified and the costs tallied before considering who should pay the tab. @ Visit Security Management Online to read testimony .