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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

NTSB calls for cameras in all transit trains

The photo (taken by the Upper Darby Police Department) shows a SEPTA rear-end collision in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.
Photo – NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) yesterday issued safety recommendations that call for crash-resistant inward- and outward-facing cameras to be installed in all transit agency trains.

Issued to the Federal Transit Administration and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the recommendations call for recorders with a minimum 12-hour continuous recording capability that can verify crew actions and train operating conditions, NTSB officials said in a press release.

The board said the recorders must be easily accessible for review — with limits on public release — as part of accident investigations and as a tool to improve transit-rail safety.

"These devices, which are becoming cheaper and more reliable, are critical tools in our investigations," said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. "In 47 of the 64 rail transit accidents the NTSB investigated between 1976 and 2015, audio and image recorders would have greatly helped in learning what happened by documenting and preserving data describing the actions and conditions leading to an accident."

The recommendations come as NTSB investigators are reviewing a Feb. 21, 2017, accident in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, in which one SEPTA train collided with the rear of a second SEPTA train stopped on a loop track near the 69th Street station.

The striking train was not equipped with forward-facing cameras or audio or image recorders in the cab. In the post-accident interview, the train's operator said he could not remember his actions just before the collision.

The NTSB has long called for broader use of recorders as a transportation safety measure.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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