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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak to install locomotive cameras to monitor engineers


Amtrak plans to install inward-facing video cameras on its ACS-64 locomotives in the Northeast Corridor by year's end to improve safety.

Additionally, all subsequently delivered locomotives will have the equipment installed before entering service, Amtrak officials said in a press release. The systems will serve as another tool for Amtrak and industry regulators to monitor locomotive and engineer performance, they said.

"Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Boardman. "We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety."

The equipment will be installed first on 70 ACS-64 locomotives that power Northeast Regional and long-distance trains between Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston, as well as the Keystone Service between New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. Amtrak is developing a plan to install inward-facing cameras in the rest of its locomotive fleet, including Acela Express power cars and diesel locomotives.

The action comes in the wake of a deadly Amtrak train derailment on the Northeast Corridor near Philadelphia that occurred May 12. Eight passengers were killed and 200 were injured when Train 188 derailed while on its way to New York City. The cause remains under federal investigation.

Last week, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued an emergency order requiring Amtrak to make various safety improvements, including reducing its speed in parts of the Northeast Corridor.

FRA officials expressed support for Amtrak's plan. The administration currently is finalizing a proposed rulemaking on the cameras' installation and uses.

"Inward-facing cameras enhance safety while serving as an additional tool for investigators to better understand how accidents occur. Amtrak's decision to install and use cameras is a positive response to our call for greater levels of safety and for wider use of this technology throughout the industry," FRA officials said in a statement. 

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