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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Schumer, Blumenthal call on FRA to require safety monitoring systems in locomotives, operating cabs


In the wake of last week's MTA Metro-North Railroad derailment, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) are calling on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to require railroads to install safety-monitoring systems in locomotives and operating cabs.

The senators said the monitoring systems they're calling for were recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the wake of the 2008 Metrolink accident in California. However, the FRA has not acted to put the NTSB recommendation into place, the senators said in a joint press release.

The monitoring systems would include inward and outward facing cameras in locomotives and operating cabs to monitor train crew performance and crossing accidents, and identify track deficiencies. The recording devices could be used as a deterrent for certain crew behaviors, such as falling asleep or texting, or to help determine the cause of an accident, the senators said.

"I'm perplexed as to why, for the past few years, the FRA has been sitting on a list of life-saving recommendations that may very well prevent dangerous behavior onboard our commuter trains," said Schumer. "Inward facing cameras may help railroad managers detect dangerous patterns amongst engineers ahead of time, and also help investigators determine the cause of a future rail accident."

On Dec. 1, a Metro-North train derailed near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, N.Y., killing four passengers and injuring dozens more. The train was moving at 82 mph in a 30 mph zone. According to media reports, the train engineer has admitted to "nodding off."

Following the Metrolink accident, the NTSB issued a list of recommendations to the FRA. According to the recommendation report, the NSTB concluded that a "performance monitoring program that includes in-cab audio and video recordings would serve as a significant deterrent," Schumer and Blumenthal said, citing the report.

The NSTB recommended the FRA "require the installation, in all controlling locomotive cabs and cab car operating compartments, of crash-and fire-protected inward and outward facing audio and image recorders capable of providing recordings to verify that train crew actions are in accordance with rules and procedures that are essential to safety as well as train operating conditions," the senators said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/10/2013