Amtrak to Install Cameras to Monitor Engineers' Actions

Amtrak engineer
The company said that it is trying to improve safety in the wake of the deadly crash earlier this month. Brian Snyder/Reuters

In a step to improve safety in the wake of a deadly crash in Philadelphia earlier this month, Amtrak plans to install video cameras inside Northeast Corridor trains to record engineers in charge of the locomotives.

Installation on ACS-64 long-distance trains between Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., is expected to be completed by the end of this year, said Joe Boardman, Amtrak president and chief executive officer. The company is developing a plan for the inward-facing cameras in other parts of its Northeast Corridor fleet, including the Acela Express.

The plan comes two weeks after the May 12 crash that killed eight people and sent more than 200 individuals to the hospital when it derailed. The train had been traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York City. After the crash, the Federal Railroad Administration ordered Amtrak to improve the safety of the corridor.

"Inward-facing video cameras will help improve safety and serve as a valuable investigative tool," Boardman wrote Tuesday in a statement. "We have tested these cameras and will begin installation as an additional measure to enhance safety."

Similar cameras facing outward from the front of the trains already are in place, Boardman said.

Brandon Bostian, the 32-year-old engineer at the controls during the recent crash, suffered a head injury in the crash. A day later, he said he didn't recall the incident. During their preliminary investigation, authorities discovered the train had been traveling twice the speed limit, over 100 miles an hour, when it entered the curve and flew off the tracks. Before the train derailed, Bostian reportedly hit the emergency brake, dropping the speed from 106 mph to 102.

The union that defends the engineers has called the cameras an invasion of privacy.

Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service connects Washington to Boston, with stops in Philadelphia and New York City, among other destinations. It also includes routes to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; Albany, New York; and Richmond, Virginia, according to the company's website. Each year, more than 260 million passenger trips occur on the Northeast Corridor service.