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MTA moves forward with video cameras on trains

NEW YORK - MTA Metro-North Railroad, on behalf of itself and MTA Long Island Rail Road, intends to move forward on a plan to install outward- and inward-facing video and audio recorders on its trains, following up on a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“The MTA is committed to safe operations at all its agencies,” said Thomas Prendergast, MTA Chairman and CEO. “We will be systematically implementing recommendations put forward by the NTSB and other regulators to ensure the best practices are adhered to throughout the MTA family.”

Prospective vendors will be asked to design, manufacture, and deliver an on-board video recording system. The base order would cover the newest cars in the railroads’ fleets, Metro-North’s M-8s, both railroads’ M-7s and cab cars, as well as all locomotives. This includes 843 rail car cabs for Metro-North and 926 cars for LIRR.

Because of the complexity of implementing such a system, the railroads on Monday will ask the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, their parent agency, to approve a type of procurement called a Request for Proposal rather than a simple low-bid contract, where price is the sole determining factor.

The vendors will be evaluated on the basis of technical capability, past performance, organizational resources, experience of team members and cost. No cost estimate is yet available.

If the board approves the use of the RFP process, the two railroads’ project managers and teams will develop the technical specifications, the scope of work and the contract documents. Metro-North’s Procurement Department will then advertise the project.

Metro-North committed to install cameras on trains in its 100-day Action Plan issued after Joseph Giulietti became Metro-North’s new President on February 10, 2014. The primary purpose of the cameras is to aid in post-accident/incident investigations. Another function is to deter behaviors that could affect safe train operations.

On February 18, 2014, the NTSB issued recommendation R-14-08 calling on Metro-North to install inward- and outward-facing video and audio recorders as a result of its investigation into a fatal derailment at Spuyten Duyvil on December 1, 2013.

Both railroads are working together to procure and install Positive Train Control as quickly as possible, both railroads have made immediate improvements to signaling and speed controls after the Dec. 1 derailment, and both railroads are responsive to the all-agency safety changes announced by Prendergast.