Engineer suspended after video shows him reading paper while driving train
Many people enjoy reading the paper on their daily commute — but not when they’re at the wheel of a speeding train.
A veteran Metro-North train engineer was suspended without pay on Thursday after a video taken by a rider shows him perusing the morning paper while operating a train on the Harlem line.
The unnamed engineer showed up for work at 5:30 Thursday morning, only to discover he was suspended pending a full investigation of the reported incident.
The video was shot by John Bingham, a Yonkers resident, who originally submitted it to NBC.
Bingham, a frequent commuter on Metro-North, noticed the engineer enjoying his morning read on Wednesday when he boarded the Grand Central-bound train at the Wakefield station in the Bronx, according to reports.
In the video the conductor can be seen calmly reading the paper as scenery whizzes by.
Concerned for his safety, Bingham also told NBC 4 New York that the engineer only looked up when the bells signaling the train’s arrival into a station went off.
Bingham said he will be filing complaints with Metro-North.
Margie Anders, a spokeswoman for Metro North, said a signal system in the booth where the engineer sits is in place to overcome human failure. That emergency system can stop the train if an engineer ignores a signal to stop for say, debris or someone on the tracks.
Still, MTA officials said they reminded all members of the train crews on Thursday that unsafe behavior will not be tolerated.
“Reading anything, texting or using cell phones while operating a train is totally unacceptable,” said Anders. “Trains are not automatic … it is necessary for the conductor have his eyes up and alert at all times.”
While it’s unclear how fast the train was going when the video was shot, that train can reach peak speeds of 60mph, said Anders.
In addition to suspension The Federal Railway Administration was notified about the video and the engineer may be subject to a federal civil fine.
MTA said the name of the engineer will not be released until the investigation is complete and appropriate discipline is given. Officials did mention the man has been an employee since 1988 and an engineer with the agency since 2001.
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