Rush Hour Is Not The Best Time To Read The Paper If You’re The One Operating The Train

Catching up on current events on your train ride is a great way to pass the time, but maybe not so much if you’re the person operating said train. A Metro-North engineer in New York has been suspended after a passenger caught him on video reading the newspaper at the controls during a rush hour train ride yesterday morning.

The video’s author notes in the YouTube description that the engineer looks down for almost 15 seconds to read the paper.

Metro-North said the employee has been taken out of service while the incident is being investigated, reports CBS New York. And starting today, all engineers have to report for retraining so they can be reminded what they can and can’t do while operating a train.

“Reading anything, texting or using cell phones while operating a train is totally unacceptable,” Metro-North spokesperson Marjorie Anders said. “Metro-North is taking action to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again.”

Even if engineers totally ignore signals, officials say systems are in place that would stop trains if needed.

Metro-North: Engineer Seen On Video Reading While Operating Train Taken Out Of Service [CBS New York]
6/6/12 8:34am MetroNorth Train from Wakefield to GC Station with 8 packed cars. NYC [YouTube]


Edit Your Comment

  1. unpolloloco says:

    Suggests to me that the train doesn’t need a human operator….

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    Sounds like Metro-North needs to install cameras in the conductors area and broadcast a live video feed to the pasenger section. That should clear up any problems.

  3. That guy. says:

    I would have loved it if he was watching on an iPad the movie Rush Hour.

    • nybiker says:

      While MN is a railroad and not the subway, I’d have liked it if he was watching the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

    • thor777 says:

      Better fit would be “Speed”…lol

      “I’m going to speed it up!” XD

  4. Cat says:

    Casey Jones, you better watch your speed.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      This isn’t the golden age of railroading where everyone knew a conductors whistle.

  5. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Metro-North and the conductor’s union are installing a fix for this problem starting next week:

    Curtains in the conductor’s booth.

  6. homehome says:

    “Even if engineers totally ignore signals, officials say systems are in place that would stop trains if needed.”

  7. shepd says:

    Oftentimes trains will have a deadman’s switch. The original ones were defeated with toolboxes. However, newer systems require you to push a button every once in a while.

    Perhaps that’s not engaging enough. Maybe it should ask math questions?

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      You answered that 2+2 = 4, this means you must not be a valid engineer. Shutting the train down and summoning authorites now. Automatic door locks engaged. Have a nice day.

  8. RandomLetters says:

    Things to do while operating the train:

    1. Run the damn train.
    2. See number 1.
    3. There is no number 3.

    • j2.718ff says:

      While I completely agree, he should not be reading a newspaper, I feel like the reaction are somewhat overblown. Driving a train isn’t like driving a car. Once you’re going, there really isn’t very much that needs to be done.

      • Quake 'n' Shake says:

        Engineers have to react to signals that indicate reductions in speed and when to stop. The problem is that there are other trains, in front and behind, sharing the same track. Speed limits also vary along the line based on curves, grade crossings, switches, etc… It’s more than just, accelerate to speed, stop at station, repeat.

        • RandomLetters says:

          Exactly. There could be a car stalled on the tracks, a drunk could have fallen asleep across them or a cartoon villian could have tied the hero’s girlfriend to them. If these trains didn’t need a human making some decisions at the wheel then the bean counters would have gotten rid of them long ago. The systems that should stop a train only react under predifned circumstances. Anything outside of those circumstances is probably ignored as bad data.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          After you’ve been an engineer for a few years, you know where the signals are located. You also need an extremely large amount of space to stop, so it isn’t terribly difficult to look up, see you have clear signals, then look up 15 seconds later to see that the next signal is clear.

          Maybe the nosey passenger should be given a copy of RailSim, or a trip up front, so they can see for themselves how easy it is to drive a long route.

  9. LMA says:

    “all engineers have to report for retraining so they can be reminded what they can and can’t do while operating a train.”

    “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon… you know, cause I’ve worked on a lot of railroads and I tell you, people do that all the time.”

  10. Vox Republica says:

    1. Wakefield to GCT is one of the shorter trips one can take on the Harlem line. Perish the thought that this nonsense started in North White Plains.
    2. Original video poster: come on. You’re a New Yorker. It’s Grand Central Terminal, not Station. The only stations at Grand Central are a.) the post office and b.) the subway. GCT is the terminus of Metro North. Hence, terminal.

  11. El_Fez says:

    This is sloppy reporting! The REAL story here is: Someone READS a real, print NEWSPAPER! My god! This is shocking!

  12. j2.718ff says:

    “Reading anything, texting or using cell phones while operating a train is totally unacceptable,”

    Reading *anything*? Personally, I’d like the train operator to read the signals.

  13. shepd says:

    It could be worse, he could fall asleep:

  14. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Are they taking the matter very seriously?

  15. samonela says:
    • RvLeshrac says: Japan solved this problem by enforcing ATC on all lines. Germany and the UK use similar systems on many lines.

      The problem is that ATC is still entirely voluntary on US rail lines.

      You need an engineer to deal with certain unexpected issues, but ATC handles most issues that would require engineer control.

  16. OutPastPluto says:

    That’s nothing. I took a picture of a guy reading a newspaper on the freeway.

    He was driving a smart car.

  17. Geekybiker says:

    I wonder if “taking steps” includes putting up something on the window to prevent anymore video or photos?

  18. guspaz says:

    Bus drivers in Montreal do this all the time. They keep a newspaper next to them and read it at stop lights or other pauses. I’m not thrilled with it, but of all the problems with Montreal’s public transit system, this is pretty far down the list.

  19. EarthAngel says:

    If the person who was recording the video really felt like they were in danger, why didn’t they tap on the glass and tell the conductor to pay attention?

  20. BurtReynolds says:

    Metro North? My money was on Washington Metro.

  21. doctor.mike says:

    The train in the video is going straight DOWN!