Another data recorder found in derailed train

2013-12-02 19:58
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Train derails in New York

A passenger train has derailed in New York City, killing at least 4 people and leaving more than 60 injured.

New York - Authorities retrieved a second data recorder on Monday from a New York City commuter train involved in a derailment that killed 4 people and injured more than 60 others.

Investigators trying to determine the cause of the crash planned to interview the engineer and conductor of the train.

Earl Weener, of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at the crash site that the second data recorder was found in the train's front car and was sent to Washington for analysis. The other recorder was found earlier in the rear locomotive.

Weener said investigators are looking for information on the speed of the train, how the brakes were applied and the throttle setting.

He said they've already had some success in retrieving data, but the information has to be validated before it's made public.

Investigators could interview the engineer and conductor Monday or Tuesday, Weener said.

The NTSB said its investigators could spend up to 10 days probing all aspects of the accident that toppled seven cars and the locomotive, leaving the lead car only inches from the water at a bend in the New York City borough of the Bronx, where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet.

It was the latest accident in a troubled year for the second-biggest US commuter railroad, which had never experienced a passenger death in an accident in its 31-year history.

Officials warned the 26 000 weekday riders of Metro-North railroad to brace for crowded trains during the morning commute. However, railroad spokesperson Aaron Donovan said no major delays were reported during the early part of the rush hour.

The locomotive was hoisted back on the track before dawn on Monday morning, and two cranes were in place to lift the rest of the toppled cars pending approval of the board, Donovan said.

Victims identified

About 150 people were on board when the train derailed as it rounded a riverside curb. Donovan said the railroad believed everyone aboard has been accounted for.

Some of the passengers on the Metro-North train from the town of Poughkeepsie to Manhattan were jolted from sleep around 07:20 to screams and the frightening sensation of their compartment rolling over on the bend.

In their efforts to find passengers, rescuers shattered windows, searched nearby woods and waters and used pneumatic jacks and air bags to peer under wreckage.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the track did not appear to be faulty, leaving speed as a possible culprit for the crash. The speed limit on the curve is 48km/h, compared with 113km/h in the area approaching it, Weener said.

Authorities identified the victims Sunday as Donna L Smith, 54; James G Lovell, 58; James M Ferrari, 59; and Ahn Kisook, 35. Three of the dead were found outside the train, and one was found inside, authorities said.

Eleven of the injured were believed to be critically wounded and another six seriously hurt, according to the Fire Department.

Sunday's accident came six months after an eastbound train derailed in Connecticut, and was struck by a westbound train. The crash injured 73 passengers, two engineers and a conductor. In July, a freight train full of garbage derailed on the same Metro-North line near the site of Sunday's wreckage.

For decades, the NTSB has been urging railroads to install technology that can stop derailing caused by excessive speed, along with other problems.

A rail-safety law passed by Congress in 2008 gave commuter and freight railroads until the end of 2015 to install the systems, known as positive train control.

PTC is aimed at preventing human error - the cause of about 40% of train accidents. But the systems are expensive and complicated. Railroads are trying to push back the installation deadline another five to seven years.

Metro-North is in the process of installing the technology. It now has what's called an "automatic train control" signal system, which automatically applies the brakes if an engineer fails to respond to an alert that indicates excessive speed.

- AP

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