NYC train car lacked safety alert, source says
NEW YORK — The New York commuter train that derailed killing four people on Sunday had a safety system designed to keep its engineer alert, but it was not installed in the car from which he was controlling the train, a source familiar with the railroad's operations said.
The engineer, William Rockefeller, 46, told authorities he became dazed and lost focus shortly before the crash as the train took a curve at three times the speed limit, investigators said.
The source said Metro-North commuter railroad trains such as the one on the ill-fated Poughkeepsie-New York City run are equipped with two safety systems to alert fatigued or distracted engineers.
In one system, every 25 seconds the train is in motion, an alert sounds unless the engineer makes at least a minor movement of the throttle or controller, indicating he or she is alert. If the engineer is idle, the system soon automatically starts applying the train's brakes.
On the train that derailed on the curve entering Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, the diesel locomotive was equipped with the driver alert system, the source said.
But the driver was running the train from a “control cab” at the front of the first passenger carriage, not from the locomotive pushing seven carriages from the rear, and this control cab did not have the alerting system, the source added.
“The locomotive had an alerter. The (control) cab didn't,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity during an ongoing investigation.
Few if any Metro-North trains set up in similar push-pull configurations — where the locomotive pulls the train one way, then pushes it on the return trip — are equipped with the driver alert system at both ends, the source said.
A former supervisor of the driver at Metro-North confirmed the source's description, although he was unable to say how the derailed train was equipped.
“I know the locomotive end would have had to have this touch system, but I don't know the model of the car, so I can't say for sure whether or not it was equipped with the system,” Michael McLendon, a recently retired assistant director of Metro-North's shops and facilities team, told Reuters.
The Federal Railway Administration and National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment on the alert systems on the derailed train, saying such information is part of the ongoing accident investigation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mortgage deal isn’t likely to cost $17B
- Navy boots 34 in cheating scandal
- Last 4 hostages freed in suburban Chicago
- Beheading doesn’t deter U.S., who launches new airstrikes
- Cleanup follows heavy storms in Phoenix area
- Contraception, abstinence push U.S. teen birthrates to historic lows
- More states pick up tab for ACT exams
- Florida looks good: Farmer’s Almanac predicts ‘super-cold’ winter, above-average snow for Northeast
- Poll: Common Core educational standards loses support
- CDC scientist took shortcuts with bird flu
- Daughters more diligent than sons about elder care, study says