Authorities debating whether the benefits outweigh the risks

cameraThe debate over video cameras in airplane cockpits is heating up, as a string of high-profile aviation disasters prompt concerns over whether accident investigators have sufficient information.

The United Nations’ aviation arm is expected to make a big push later this year to install video cameras in airliner cockpits, the Wall Street Journal reports. The discussions over the additional technology will likely take years; the regulation will ultimately fall into the hands of individual countries.

Read more from Time.

cameraThe Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad plan to install inward-facing and outward-facing video cameras and audio recorders on most of their trains, MTA officials said.

In response to calls from federal investigators for stepped-up safety measures on two of the busiest commuter rail systems in the country, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced Wednesday that it intends to put out a request for proposal to find a vendor to design, manufacture and install the recording technology on newer LIRR and Metro-North electrical passenger cars and all locomotives.

Read the complete story at Newsday.

BOSTON – Homeland Security in Washington DC has awarded the MBTA about $7 million to outfit buses with the latest in live video technology.

Sophisticated new 360-degree lenses embedded in the ceilings and walls of the buses will now capture everything. And on some buses, there will even be flat screens for passengers to see what is going on.

Read the complete story at CBS Boston.

union_pacific_logoOMAHA, Nebraska — At least two major U.S. freight railroads are seeking to install cameras in their locomotives to make sure crews are following rules and avoiding cellphone use.

Union Pacific asked a federal judge this week to declare it has the authority to install the cameras under the railroad’s existing labor agreements. Kansas City Southern railroad won a similar lawsuit last month over the objections of labor unions.

Read the complete story at the Daily Reporter.


KCS_rail_logoIn an opinion released July 25, the U.S. District Court in Shreveport, La., ruled that the decision by Kansas City Southern Railway to install two inward-facing cameras in the cabs of its locomotives presents a “minor” dispute under the Railway Labor Act, paving the way for the railroad to install the cameras immediately.

The “minor” dispute ruling is significant because the Railway Labor Act prevents unions from exercising self-help over minor disputes.

The finding by Judge Elizabeth Erny Foote against the SMART Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen was that the KCS had an arguable contractual justification for its actions. According to the ruling, the contractual justification is based on the carrier’s existing use of stationary surveillance cameras in various train yards and other locations, inward-facing cameras in crew vans that transport KCS crews to and from train assignments, and procedures for monitoring and recording phone calls between train crew employees and crew management regarding reporting to work.

The judge also held that it was not “frivolous to argue that the safety challenges posed by employees using personal electronic devices on the job necessitate the camera and review system proposed by KCSR.”

Once it was determined the case was a “minor” dispute, the two unions argued for a “status quo” injunction pending resolution of the dispute before an arbitrator. Judge Foote denied the argument.

SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey expressed displeasure with the ruling saying, “Unfortunately, the law now is such that it is quite difficult to get a judge to find that a major dispute exists in these type situations. The fight is not over. We will continue to press the issue to protect our members’ rights. We believe that an arbitrator looking at this situation will see it as an extreme overreach by the carrier.”

To view Judge Foote’s ruling, click here.

The following was written by former UTU Director of Public Relations Frank N. Wilner.

“Here’s looking at you, kid,” is a cherished line from the movie Casablanca, but when the looking is through a hidden camera lens in the locker room or even visibly trained on crewmembers inside a locomotive cab, well, you won’t hear the more famous line, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”

In fact, Kansas City Southern Railway, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the United Transportation Union are heading to federal court over the railroad’s announcement it intends to install inward facing cameras in its locomotive cabs as a safety overlay to monitor crew behavior and train-handling techniques.

Read the complete editorial at Railway Age.