NEW YORK - A week after four people died in a New York commuter-train derailment, two federal lawmakers proposed Sunday that trains nationwide be outfitted with cameras pointed at engineers and at the tracks.
"I know you're going to hear from Metro-North that there are costs, but the costs of these audio and visual recorders is minuscule, in fact negligible, compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars that this tragic incident will cost Metro-North in the end," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who joined New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer for a news conference at Grand Central Terminal.
Last Sunday, a Metro-North Railroad train approached a curve on the tracks just north of Manhattan going at 82 m.p.h. instead of the speed limit of 30 m.p.h. Railcars careened off the tracks, with the front car ending up inches from the water where the Hudson River meets the Harlem River.
A lawyer and a union leader for the derailed train's engineer, William Rockefeller, have said the train's hypnotic motion may have caused him to experience a "nod" or a "daze" at the controls.
The Democratic lawmakers are urging the Federal Railroad Administration to demand the implementation of a measure they say might prevent the kind of deadly Metro-North derailment that also left dozens of people injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board first recommended installation of the audio and video recording cameras in locomotives and operating railway cabs five years ago.
The NTSB did not immediately respond to a call for comment Sunday, nor did the railroad administration or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that runs Metro-North.
Schumer said fatigue was suspected in two collisions - one in Iowa, in 2011 and another in Newton, Mass., in 2008 - and might have been proven if cameras were present. He said such images might have caught behavior patterns that could have been prevented in the future.
"Get on board and implement these recommendations now," Schumer said, directing his comments to the Federal Railroad Administration, which has the power to demand the changes. The railroad administration has yet to take any regulatory action putting these recommendations in place.