Canadian Underwriter

Amtrak to install inward-facing cameras in locomotives by year-end

May 28, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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Amtrak announced earlier this week that it will install inward-facing video cameras in the fleet of ACS-64 locomotives in service on the Northeast Corridor by the end of 2015, just two weeks after eight people were killed when a passenger derailed and overturned in Philadelphia.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member Robert Sumwalt on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment in Philadelphia, PA. Photo: NTSB

All subsequently delivered locomotives will have the equipment installed before they go into service, Amtrak said in a press release. “These systems will be another tool for Amtrak and industry regulators to monitor locomotive and engineer performance,” Amtrak said.

“Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool,” Amtrak president and CEO Joe Boardman said in the release. “We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety.”

Related: Death toll in train derailment reaches 7 as body found in wreckage; investigation begins

Amtrak reported that installation will first occur in the 70 ACS-64 locomotives that will power all Northeast Regional and long-distance trains between Washington, New York and Boston, as well as Keystone Service between New York, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa. The company is developing a plan for installation of inward-facing cameras in the rest of its locomotive fleet, including Acela Express power cars and diesel locomotives.

Related: U.S. senator files legislation to replace cap on damages for passenger rail liability following deadly Amtrak derailment

Amtrak already has outward-facing cameras on locomotives, along with advanced systems that monitor locomotive and engineer actions.

The NTSB Go Team arrives on the scene of the Amtrak Train #188 derailment in Philadelphia, PA. Photo: NTSB

Last week, the NTSB said in a statement that it had completed most of their on-scene documentation work at the accident site and at Amtrak facilities in Delaware. Additional 3D laser scanning of the train cars will be completed in the coming weeks. “An examination of the signals systems has revealed no anomalies or malfunctions,” the statement said.

Related: Positive train control might have prevented fatal Philadelphia passenger rail crash: Safety board

The NTSB also has possession of the Amtrak engineer’s cell phone. “Although the records appear to indicate that calls were made, text messages sent, and data used on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated,” the statement said.

Related: Amtrak CEO says railroad takes ‘full responsibility’ for role in deadly Philadelphia crash

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) made a similar recommendation that “all controlling locomotives in main line operation be equipped with in-cab video cameras” following a VIA Rail Canada Inc. derailment on Feb. 26, 2012 in Aldershot, Ont. Although the last track signal required the train to proceed at 15 mph, the train entered the crossover at about 67 mph, causing the locomotive and all five coaches to derail, the TSB said in an investigation report. The operating crew was killed and 44 passengers and the VIA service manager were injured.

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