Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Metra equips railcar with cameras to test functionality

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Metra Electric Line customers may have noticed some small cameras inside one of their cars—it’s part of a very preliminary test to determine how camera technology can be used on Metra trains.

Eleven new cameras have been installed on the car to test functionality, location and range. They will gather data through May, and the test results will be used to help identify the camera technology that works best on Metra trains to inform a future procurement, should funding become available.

“This is the first step Metra needs to take before we can move forward with a plan to buy cameras for more of our cars,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “If we could, we would install cameras on our full fleet, but there is no funding to do that now. But when funding becomes available, we want to be ready.”

Metra recently applied for U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant funding to buy security camera technology for its passenger railcars. The agency funded the 11 cameras needed for this test with operating funds from its 2016 budget. Metra’s fleet consists of 1,028 passenger railcars.

The Metra Electric Line was selected for the test because the railcars on that line have the newest equipment, came pre-wired for technology and are the easiest to install.

“There is no doubt that we are in favor of having security cameras inside our railcars,” said Metra Police Chief Joseph Perez. “Not only can they act as a deterrent on their own, they have the potential to capture information that can help lead to an arrest.”

Metra currently has cameras installed on the front of each of its locomotives and has plans to purchase cameras in the engineer’s compartment on its full fleet of locomotives and cab cars in late-2016.

Depending on the test results and potential grant funding from DHS, Metra could be in a position to recommend the purchase of additional cameras for the inside of its passenger railcars in 2017.

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