Monday, January 13, 2014

Senators push FRA order for locomotive cameras

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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Two U.S. Senators are urging the Federal Railroad Administration to mandate cameras on board passenger locomotives and operating cab cars in order to provide detailed information on potential derailments.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are making the push following the Metro-North derailment Dec. 1, 2013 in the Bronx, N.Y., that killed four and injured 67. The two Senators formally announced their intent Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, and suggested the Federal Railroad Administration was responsive to their effort.

Blumenthal said he hopes FRA will issue an order rather than follow a longer rulemaking process, because recorded footage of tracks and engineers operating locomotives is necessary to determine culpability in collisions and derailments. He and Schumer seek cameras to record events both outside the locomotive and inside the engineer's cab.

"The whole purpose of cameras is to deter misconduct or mistake, as well as detect track defects or debris or other obstructions on the tracks or on bridges," Blumenthal said Sunday. "I'm hoping they [FRA] do it soon."

Blumenthal believes cameras would have provided insight into other recent incidents, including the derailment of a Metro-North train that sideswiped another last May in Bridgeport, Conn.

A Metro-North spokesman said Sunday that the railroad has no immediate plans to install cameras on trains.

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