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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

FRA Publishes Final Rule Requiring the Installation of Locomotive Image Recording Devices on Passenger Trains

Thursday, October 12, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a final rule requiring the installation of inward- and outward-facing image recording devices on all passenger train lead locomotives providing scheduled intercity rail passenger or commuter service. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) required this regulation, and the regulation also responds to a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation with the aim to enhance safety across the passenger rail industry.
The final rule mandates that locomotive video recording devices must remain operational while the controlling locomotive of a passenger train is in motion. To ensure the integrity and accessibility of this footage, the rule stipulates that data captured must retain at least the last 12 hours of recorded footage and be stored in a crashworthy memory module. Since locomotive-mounted recording devices on passenger trains are categorized as "safety devices" tampering with or disabling of these vital recording systems is prohibited.
“While video recorders cannot directly prevent accidents, they help maintain a higher standard of safety,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “In addition, these devices play a vital role in post-accident investigations, providing valuable evidence that helps us understand the circumstances leading to the accident and take appropriate action to prevent similar accidents in the future.”
The final rule also establishes guidelines for the utilization of passenger locomotive recordings for operational tests, allowing the evaluation of operating employees' compliance with applicable railroad operating rules and Federal regulations. By leveraging the video recordings, passenger railroads can effectively identify areas of improvement and enhance overall safety.  The implementation of these locomotive image and audio recording devices is a significant step forward in bolstering passenger rail safety and maintaining regulatory compliance.   
While FRA is not requiring the installation and use of inward- and outward-facing recording devices in freight locomotives, it should be noted that they have been voluntarily installed by freight railroads on a widespread basis.  
Further information on the final rule for Railroad Carriers to install Locomotive Image and Audio Recording Devices for Passenger Trains is published in the Federal Register here