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Metrolink installs video cameras in locomotives as safety measure

October 5, 2009 | 12:20 pm

Metrolink officials today announced that video cameras have been installed and activated inside and outside all of the rail system's locomotives, a safety measure enacted as a result of the deadly 2008 Chatsworth crash.

Video records will be stored in a unit similar to an airplane's black box, installed in all 52 locomotive cabs, and the information will be downloaded daily for random review. The purpose of the recorders is to ensure that engineers adhere to bans on cellphones, text messaging and unauthorized passengers in the cab, issues that arose after a Metrolink crash killed two dozen people a year ago and during subsequent National Transportation Safety Board hearings in Washington.

The announcement was made at news conference by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Metrolink board chairman Keith Millhouse at the Metrolink maintenance yard near Elysian Park. Officials said the price to install the cameras was $1 million.

The cameras have not been placed in Metrolink's lead cars -- train cars that are pushed from behind by locomotives on their return trips -- but they will be put into 57 new lead cars that are on order and scheduled to be placed into service next year.

Twenty-five people died and 135 were injured Sept. 12, 2008, when a Metrolink train collided head-on with a Union Pacific freight train in the San Fernando Valley.

Read the Times' complete coverage of Metrolink's safety record.

-- Phil Willon at the Metrolink maintenance yard

Photo: A newly installed video camera inside a Metrolink locomotive. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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