The nation’s railroad regulatory agency announced that it will move forward with a plan that installs cameras inside train operators’ cabins, following calls for action after last month’s deadly Metro North derailment, and the cameras should be operational sometime late this year or early next year, according to senators Charles Schumer and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
The senators said they were pleased that the Federal Railroad Administration finally acted on recommendations that were proposed in 2008. The investigation into the Dec. 1 incident, in which four passengers were killed and 67 were injured, is still ongoing. Officials said that the train’s engineer, William Rockefeller, dozed off before coming onto a steep curve.
Schumer said the cameras will make sure train operators are working safely.
"Most conductors are good," he said at a news conference at Grand Central Terminal Sunday. "But when there are bad apples, you have to find them."
The FRA will begin the rule-making process and lay out the specifics as to the implementation of the cameras that will be inside control rooms and outside trains. Currently, only Amtrak has outward-facing cameras.
There will be a public review process sometime this year according to the senators, who sent a letter to the FRA after the Metro North accident pushing them to pursue the camera plan.
"I urge that there be no further delay," Blumenthal said.
Schumer added that the cameras also will deter train operators from engaging in unethical behavior while behind the wheel. A report in yesterday’s New York Post revealed several LIRR operators were disciplined for playing video games, drinking and more while working.
"It’s hard to imagine playing Angry Birds while driving a train that accidents won’t happen," Schumer said.
Blumenthal said he expects no hassle from the railroad workers union or the public over the cameras, which will cost in the "tens of millions" of dollars. Passengers demand safety and would welcome any solution to make sure the Bronx accident never happens again, according to the Connecticut senator.
"These rules are long overdue," he said.