Passenger Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

Amtrak to install inward-facing loco cameras

Amtrak derailment. Photo: NTSB

US passenger operator Amtrak will install inward-facing video cameras to locomotives on the Northeast Corridor by the end of the year, following a derailment north of Philadelphia earlier this month.

Train 188 was operating between Washington, D.C. and New York, N.Y. when it derailed on a curve just after going through Philadelphia on May 12.

8 passengers were killed, and more than 200 are reportedly injured – at least 11 critically.

Initial investigations by the National Transport Safety Board have found the train accelerated up from 70 to 100 miles per hour (113 to 161km/h) in the 60 seconds leading up to the curve, which had an authorised speed limit of 50 miles per hour.

The train’s engineer reported to investigators that he didn’t remember anything after sounding the train’s horn when he passed through North Philadelphia station, which is over 4.5km away from the curve where the train derailed.

The NTSB investigation is ongoing.

But Amtrak has responded so far to the incident, with the announcement on May 26 (local time) that it will install inward-facing cameras on its fleet of ACS-64 locomotives in service on the Northeast Corridor by the end of 2015.

All subsequently delivered locomotives will have the equipment installed before they go into service, the operator added.

“Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool,” Amtrak president Joe Boardman said in a media release, which did not reference the derailment.

“We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety.”

The first installation will cover 70 locomotives.

Amtrak is also developing a plan for the installation of inward-facing cameras in the rest of its locomotive fleet.

The operator already has outward-facing cameras on its locomotives, along with “advanced systems that monitor locomotive and engineer actions.”

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