Employee To Sit Out Pending Investigation; Riders Shocked And Disappointed

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Metro-North engineer who was apparently caught on video by a passenger reading a newspaper while operating a rush hour train has been taken off the job, according to officials.

The video, which was posted on YouTube, was taken by passenger John Bingham on a Metro-North train on the Harlem Line as it was heading from Wakefield to Grand Central Station on Wednesday morning, CBS 2’s Ann Mercogliano reported.

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the engineer in question was driving the train. He was the sole person responsible for reacting to falling items on the tracks.

At one point in the video, the engineer looks down for almost 15 seconds.

Watch the original video below:

Bingham told CBS 2 he filmed the engineer because he feared for riders’ safety.

Other commuters who saw the video for the first time Thursday morning were in disbelief.

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“We kind of just take for granted that they’re doing their job, but if he’s doing that, then we better watch them all,” one Metro-North rider told CBS 2’s Mercogliano.

“It kind of scared me, you know? You take the train every day and you put your life in their hands,” added Marie Scaringi of Yonkers.

“If anything happens on the track, he’s not going to be able to react right away. That’s kind of dangerous,” said another.

Metro-North said the employee has been identified and taken out of service pending the outcome of an investigation. Starting Thursday, all engineers will have to report for retraining to remind them what they are permitted to do while operating a train, officials said.

“Reading anything, texting or using cell phones while operating a train is totally unacceptable,” Metro-North spokesperson Marjorie Anders told 1010 WINS. “Metro-North is taking action to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.”

Anders also said signal systems are in place to stop trains if engineers ignore signals.

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