Commuter train that crashed in the Bronx was speeding as it entered curve, investigators find

by Charles Miller

The NTSB is reporting that the commuter train that crashed in the Bronx on November 29 was going about 82 miles per hour as it entered a 30-mph curve. At least four passengers died and at least 67 were injured after the train derailed about 10 miles north of Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

This is apparently not the first time a train has jumped the tracks on this particular turn. A freight train derailed in the same curve in July causing damage to about 1,500 feet of track, according to a Metropolitan Transit Authority report at the time.

A spokesperson for Metro-North Railroad has stated that the train involved in the recent crash was not equipped with positive train control (an automated system designed to slow down or stop trains to prevent crashes caused by human error). Some news outlets have reported that the train’s engineer has told investigators he applied the brakes, but the train didn’t slow down.

Investigators have recovered two event recorders — one from the locomotive at the back of the train and one from the car at the front. The recorders can answer important questions such as how fast the train was traveling and whether its brakes were working. Investigators will likely explore several questions: Was the train’s driver rested? Was he paying attention to his job? Did the equipment on the train function correctly?

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by Charles Miller

Charles Miller is a licensed attorney and a partner at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. Charles focuses his practice on areas of complex commercial litigation and personal injury litigation.