A federal rail safety agency will act to require cameras on the tracks and to keep tabs on engineers in locomotives and operating cabs after the derailment last month in the Bronx,N.Y. that killed four and injured 67, Senator Richard Blumenthal announced yesterday.
Blumenthal said that he hopes the agency will issue an order rather than following a lengthy rule making process because footage of tracks and engineers operating locomotives is necessary information to determine culpability in collisions and derailments.
Blumenthal said that the additional cameras would have been useful in investigating the Bronx derailment in which a train barreled off the tracks at 82 miles per hour on a a sharply curved section of track where the speed limit is 30.
William Rockefeller, the driver of the train told others he went into a daze in the time before the crash.
“The whole purpose of cameras is to deter misconduct or mistake as well as detect track defect or debris or other obstruction on the tracks or on bridges,” Blumenthal said. “I’m hoping they do it soon.”
Last month after a derailment on a sharp curve near Spuyten Duyvil Blumenthal and his colleague U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer,-D-NY called on the Federal Rail Administration to impose a requirement to install the cameras on all rail equipment to improve safety monitoring.
On Sunday, Blumenthal pointed to an NTSB recommendations both before and after a fatal crash five years ago that killed 25 people in California calling for the installation of the cameras as a tool to assist in post-accident investigations.
Blumenthal said that he believes that the cameras would have provided additional insight into other recent mishaps including the derailment of a train and collision with another in May in Bridgeport which injured 76 people and the death of a Maine woman trespassing on the Saugatuck River Railroad Bridge.
“This step is big news because cameras can help save lives,” Blumenthal said. “There shouldn’t have been a tragedy or in fact a series of tragic incidents beginning with the Bridgeport collision and derailment and the death of Annette White on the tracks in Westport.”
After the Bronx,N.Y. crash, the FRA has ordered Metro-North to reprogram its pre-existing alerter system to automatically slow down but not halt trains on dangerous curves and at bridges if engineers are exceeding recommended speeds. Such signalization on the railroad had not been used avoid collisions but not control speeds based on track configuration or alignment, according to the railroad.