NTSB recommends camera usage on-board all rail transit vehicles


Independent US Government investigative agency National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a recommendation to install crash-resistant inward and outward facing cameras on-board all rail transit vehicles.

The recommendation was issued to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and is expected to assist during investigations into train accidents and crashes.

NTSB specified that the cameras should be capable of recording a minimum of 12 hours of footage continuously to help with the analysis of crew members' actions and train operating conditions.

Furthermore, the camera recorders must be easily accessible for review in the event of an accident investigation, as well as for limited public release.

NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said: “These devices, which are becoming cheaper and more reliable, are critical tools in our investigations.

"In 47 of the 64 rail transit accidents the NTSB investigated between 1976 and 2015, audio and image recorders would have greatly helped in learning what happened."

“In 47 of the 64 rail transit accidents the NTSB investigated between 1976 and 2015, audio and image recorders would have greatly helped in learning what happened by documenting and preserving data describing the actions and conditions leading to an accident.”

NTSB is currently investigating an accident in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, that occurred in February when a SEPTA train collided with the rear of a second SEPTA vehicle, which was stopped on a loop track near the 69th Street station.

The train was not equipped with forward-facing cameras or image and audio recorders in the operating cab, which caused significant difficulty during the subsequent investigation.

The NTSB-recommended recorders are also expected to become a tool to improve the overall safety of rail travel, as well as document the operators' actions more closely.


Image: SEPTA rear-end collision in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Photo: courtesy of Upper Darby Police Department.