On May 26, 2015 Amtrak
announced it would be installing inward facing video cameras on its new locomotives.
Joe Boardman, Amtrak President and CEO, "Inward facing video cameras will help
improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool." Amtrak
locomotives, like the one involved in the recent derailment in Philadelphia –
the cause of which is still unknown – are currently equipped with outward facing cameras only.
Ideally, the new cameras would aid in investigations such as the recent
derailment, and further serve to encourage safe behavior on the part of
engineers. However, the
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) expresses concern for engineers who would be subject to non-stop
surveillance, even when the locomotive is stationary.
Dennis Pierce, the National President of the BLET and President of the Rail Conference
of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, asserts that the installation
of such cameras would serve nothing more than to create a "false
sense of security in the public." In his June 2, 2015
statement, he explains BLET's primary concerns are about privacy and the railroad
using camera data punitively against employees. He describes the constant
surveillance that rear facing cameras would impose on engineers as "oppressive
According to a recent New York Times
article, installing the cameras is estimated to cost Amtrak $20,000 per locomotive
and $1.4 million by the end of the year. It is the BLET's stance that
the money would be better spent on the installation of
Positive Train Control, an advanced safety system that would prevent accidents like the derailment
in Philadelphia. According to Amtrak's recent
statement, safety is the highest priority, and Amtrak is on track to have Positive
Train Control fully installed and operational along the Northeast Corridor
by the federal deadline of December 31, 2015. Additional information on
the derailment investigation, as well as Amtrak's response with regard
to safety may be found in Mr. Boardman's statement,
If you or a loved one have been injured in a railroad accident, please
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