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Biden to forgo Amtrak trip to Washington for inauguration out of security fears

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del.
President-elect Joe Biden announces key Justice Department nominees at an event at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 7.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

President-elect Joe Biden is abandoning plans to take his signature Delaware-to-Washington train ride for his inauguration next week because of security concerns, a person briefed on the decision said Wednesday.

The move reflects growing worries over potential threats in the Capitol and across the U.S. in the lead-up to the inauguration. The decision to forgo the 90-minute Amtrak ride from Wilmington to Washington was likely not easy for Biden, whose preference for taking the train during his 36-year Senate career was such a central part of his public persona that he rode it home on his final day as vice president in 2017. He also used a train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania during the presidential campaign as part of an effort to appeal to blue-collar workers.

Security in Washington has ramped up considerably in preparation for the inauguration after the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Trump, and the FBI has warned of plans for armed protests in all 50 state capitals and Washington in the days leading up to the event.

The person briefed on Biden’s decision spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. The news was first reported by CNN.

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Biden became known for riding the train starting from his earliest days in the Senate, when he made a point to return home to Wilmington nearly every night to help raise his young sons after his wife and daughter died in a car accident in 1972. His embrace of Amtrak — and the friends he made among the train conductors and staff as a regular passenger — was featured in a short film that aired during the Democratic National Convention in August.

On Wednesday, Biden received a briefing from FBI officials, the Secret Service and his national security team about the potential for additional violence in the coming days.

Law enforcement officers ring state capitol buildings nationwide, bracing for protesters and attempted repeats of the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week.

“In the week since the attack on Congress by a mob that included domestic terrorists and violent extremists, the nation has continued to learn more about the threat to our democracy and about the potential for additional violence in the coming days, both in the National Capital Region and in cities across the country,” a statement from the Biden transition team said. “This is a challenge that the President-elect and his team take incredibly seriously.”

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Across Washington, but particularly around the Capitol, the National Mall and some nearby federal buildings, security has increased considerably, with non-scalable walls and metal gates erected, streets closed and a new contingent of National Guard troops camped out at the Capitol.


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