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Senators: Rule Planned To Monitor Train Operators On Video

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Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) discuss a plan for video monitoring of train operators. (Credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) discuss a plan for video monitoring of train operators. (Credit: Monica Miller/WCBS 880)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Federal Railroad Administration is planning to propose a rule that might require the installation of video cameras aboard trains to monitor drivers and record accidents or unsafe behavior, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said Sunday.

Schumer and Blumenthal said they have received a letter from Federal Railroad Administration officials saying they plan to begin the process of establishing the rule sometime this year.

The regulation would cover cameras installed in train cabs to record drivers as well as outward-facing cameras that scan the tracks.

“We’re not criticizing a class of any worker,” Schumer said. “But when there’s a bad apple, you have to find him, and the cameras will allow that to happen.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has been urging the Railroad Administration to boost the use of safety cameras since a train collision in California in 2008 killed 25 people.

Schumer and Blumenthal publicly urged the Federal Railroad Administration to act faster last month, following a deadly commuter train derailment in New York City.

“There is no reason that these cameras should not have been in place well before now; well before Spuyten Duyvil with its four fatalities,” Blumenthal said.

On Dec. 1, an early-morning Metro-North train flew off the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx when it entered a curve at nearly three times the allowed speed. Officials said the engineer told investigators he experienced a “nod” or “daze” at the controls. Four people died.

It is unclear whether a camera system could have prevented that accident, but the two senators said recording equipment would at least help investigators reconstruct future accidents and detect dangerous conditions.

“Rolling this 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,” Schumer said.

Blumenthal said cameras “will also ensure that misconduct and mistakes are recorded so those involved can be held accountable.”

A few rail systems, including Amtrak, already use cameras to record signals and gate crossings.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo said in his late-December letter to the senators that the Association of American Railroads has been conducting a pilot program involving inward- and outward-facing cameras during the past year. The Railroad Administration has been monitoring that study and evaluating the safety benefits.

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