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Schumer, Blumenthal Call For Metro-North Cameras In Wake Of Derailment

Pols Want Federal Railroad Administration To Demand Installation
Sens. Charles Schumer, left, and Richard Blumenthal hold a news conference at Grand Central Terminal on Dec. 8, 2013. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Sens. Charles Schumer, left, and Richard Blumenthal hold a news conference at Grand Central Terminal on Dec. 8, 2013. (credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sens. Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal believe installing cameras on Metro-North Railroad trains could potentially prevent another deadly accident such as last week’s derailment that left four people dead and dozens injured.

The Democratic lawmakers held a news conference Sunday at Grand Central Terminal calling for the Federal Railroad Administration to demand the implementation of cameras that are pointed at engineers and the tracks.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended the cameras five years ago.

“Shame on Metro-North for failing to adopt this system,” Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck and WCBS 880’s Monica Miller. “Shame on the operators of this railroad for failing to move forward with a recommendation that is so cost effective. Keep people alive.

“I know you’re going to hear from Metro-North that there are costs, but the costs of these audio and visual recorders is minuscule, in fact negligible, compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that this tragic incident will cost Metro-North in the end,” Blumenthal added.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) cited two collisions — one in Red Oak, Iowa, in 2011 and another in Newton, Mass., in 2008 — in which operator fatigue was suspected but could not be proven because the trains lacked cameras. He said cameras could help prevent accidents because they would reveal dangerous engineer patterns, such as falling asleep.

“Get on board and implement these recommendations now,” he said, directing his comments to the Federal Railroad Administration, which has the power to demand the changes. “Better late than never.”

The railroad administration hasn’t immediately responded to messages seeking comment on the idea. There was also no immediate comment from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North.

A union official said William Rockefeller, the engineer at the controls of the Metro-North train that derailed Dec. 1, “nodded off” at the controls and “zoned out” before the accident. Rockefeller’s lawyer said the engineer went into a “daze.”

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