Bailey Yard locomotives
Union Pacific plans to install inward-facing cameras in locomotives to see if crews are following rules and avoiding cellphone use. The company asked a federal court last week to clarify its authority to install the cameras under existing agreements with labor unions.
Kansas City Southern railroad won a similar lawsuit last month.
The cameras have been considered since 2008, after a collision of a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific train in southern California killed 25 people and injured more than 100.
The crash was blamed on a distracted Metrolink engineer sending text messages. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended installing the inward-facing cameras to monitor crews.
The new recording cameras would not look into restrooms, the company said.
The cameras have audio recording capability; however, Union Pacific has no plans at this time to record audio, the company said in the announcement.
The inward-facing cameras would join the locomotive fleet’s external-facing cameras, called Track Image Recorders, which provide images of track, crossings and signals directly in front of locomotives.
The video is used in conjunction with locomotives’ Event Recorder data, which includes train speed, throttle and brake settings, traction power levels and horn use, the company said.
Union reaction is negative, with claims that it will be an invasion of privacy.
UP noted that technology is expanding in public places, government facilities and businesses, and the rail industry reflects this worldwide trend, with cameras in yardmaster towers, tunnels, shops, office buildings, crew vans, border locations and remote control locomotive crossings.