Following a deadly derailment that claimed the lives of eight people and injured 200 others, Amtrak will install cameras in trains running on heavily traveled routes along northeastern United States to monitor engineers.
The move by Amtrak to place cameras in the cockpits of Northeast Corridor trains comes after the May 12 accident that involved the derailment of the Northeast Regional 188, which had only one forward-facing camera that showed the tracks ahead as the train made the turn at more than double the speed of 50 miles per hour limit.
In a statement, Amtrak Chief Executive and President Joe Boardman said, “Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool.”
According to USA Today, the cameras will be put in place in only ACS-64 locomotives in the Northeast regional and long-distance trains between Washington and Boston, and the Keystone Service between New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa.
On Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed his support for Amtrak’s move.
He said, “These cameras will make a significant difference for the safety of rail passengers and will provide additional information that can be used to improve safety and prevent future tragedies.”
The National Transportation Safety Board has been urging the Federal Railroad Administration since the late 1990’s to have the passenger and freight train cabs install audio recorders. Five years ago, inward-facing sound and video recorders were included in the recommendation.
According to ABC News, Boardman said Amtrak has been supportive of the efforts by a railroad administration safety advisory committee – comprised of industry and labor representatives – to come up with standards for the cameras. Recommendations are yet to be made by the committee.
In a telephone briefing, Boardman said, “We’ve been supporting it all the way along. It’s just a matter of working out some of those details. … There may be some adjustments we have to make later down the road, but I think it’s time to do it and I’m doing it.”
However, the recommendation for installation of cameras has generally been met with resistance by unions representing engineers at Amtrak and other passenger and freight railroads. As of 2012, the installation of cameras was also contradicted by railroad administration officials, emphasizing that the cameras might bring down the morale of the employees and that the images might be used punitively by railroads.
Amtrak was also ordered by the Federal Railroad Administration to provide a list of all the locations of the curves between Washington and Boston where the speeds are required to go down to less than 20 miles per hour. The agency also asked the railroad company to provide the target dates for implementing safety measures at these locations.
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