Metrolink engineer banned from railroad, another under investigation

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File photo: A conductor steps down from the engine of a Metrolink train on the Los Angeles-bound Monday morning commute September 15, 2008 in Chatsworth, California.

A Metrolink train engineer who covered a camera aimed at him has been banned from the railroad and another is under investigation for allegedly blocking the electronic eyes put into locomotives after the deadly 2008 collision in Chatsworth, it was reported today.

The engineer driving the train in the Sept. 12, 2008, collision, which killed 25 people, was sending text messages via his cellular telephone and had just run a red light before the commuter train hit a freighter head-on.

Attorneys for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, however, have argued that the cameras are creating a safety hazard, because sun visors have been reconfigured to carry the cameras.

That, according to the union, has increased glare and made it harder to see speed indicators, according to a federal lawsuit challenging use of the cameras. The case is being watched as a test of a key safety reform being sought nationwide.

Metrolink spokeswoman Angela Starr said an investigation of the engineer banned from the railroad concluded that he was trying to block the camera's view, first by turning the device and later by putting a visor in front of the lens.

Union officials declined comment to The Times on the two recent cases.

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