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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA to launch rulemaking on locomotive cameras, Schumer and Blumenthal say


U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) yesterday announced the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin a rulemaking process to institute a rule requiring inward- and outward-facing cameras in all locomotives and operating cabs.

The senators had sent a letter to the FRA last month calling for a rulemaking on the cameras after the Dec. 1 MTA Metro-North Railroad derailment near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, N.Y., which caused four fatalities and 67 injuries. Now, there likely will be a rule on the cameras released for public review sometime in 2014, Schumer and Blumenthal said in a joint statement.

"The most important thing we can do in the wake of tragedies like the Spuyten Duyvil derailment is to learn from the mistakes made and ensure that they never happen again," said Schumer. "Rolling this [camera] program out across our entire rail network means that we will now be able to identify damaged infrastructure and dangerous behavior onboard our commuter trains before it leads to another deadly disaster."

After a passenger train collision occurred in California in 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended inward-facing cameras to monitor train crew performance, and outward-facing cameras to monitor crossing accidents and identify track deficiencies, the senators said. At the time, the FRA had not yet taken any regulatory action on the recommendation.

The recording devices can be used to deter and correct "dangerous behaviors," such as a crew member falling asleep or texting, the senators said. They also could help determine the cause of a train accident.

"Installing these cameras will ensure that misconduct and mistakes are recorded so those involved can be held accountable," said Blumenthal. "The FRA needs to move quickly to adopt [the rules] because time is of the essence."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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