In 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all trains be equipped with video cameras to monitor track conditions, signal conditions, and train engineer actions in the event of an accident. The recommendations were made following a Metrolink train wreck in Los Angeles that claimed the lives of 25 people. The Metro-North Railroad derailment in the Bronx earlier this month has renewed interest in the safety measures. That accident led to four fatalities and 71 injuries when the engineer allowed the train to enter a 30-mph curve and more than 80 mph. Video cameras would give an insight into what occurred in the train’s control cab leading up to the derailment.
Two U.S. Senators, including Senator Charles Schumer of New York, have asked the Federal Railroad Administration to require the installation of cameras immediately. The two Senators indicated that no action has been taken to adhere to the recommendations offered by the NTSB in 2008. Following the derailment, Metro-North workers have installed protections at the Spuyten Duyvil curve that will provide a warning to engineers of the lower speed limit and will automatically apply emergency brakes if a train is exceeding the limit. Those protections will be fully installed and operational by December 9.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman suggested that positive train control technology might have prevented this latest accident. Such technology has the ability to slow or stop a train without any action by the engineer if the train is being operated unsafely. There is a congressional deadline of December 15 for railroads to install positive train control systems.
Source: Newsday, “Senators call for train cameras to monitor engineer, track,” by Alfonso A. Castillo, 8 December 2013