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Federal Officials Investigate Bronx Train Derailment

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A team of investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in the Bronx on Sunday afternoon to investigate the cause of a fatal Metro-North derailment.

Early on Sunday, all seven cars of a southbound train on Metro-North’s Hudson line derailed, killing four people and injuring more than 60. Of those, 11 people are suffering critical injuries, six are serious but not life-threatening and 46 have minor injuries, according to the FDNY.

Investigators from the NTSB, an independent federal agency that investigates all significant transportation incidents nationwide, arrived at about 12:30 p.m., according to Earl Weener, a member of NTSB.

Weener answered questions at a press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday afternoon. He said the NTSB plans to be at the site of the incident along the Hudson River in the Bronx for 10 days.

Weener said the NTSB will create multiple teams that will handle different aspects of the investigation. Teams will look at tracks, signals, mechanical equipment including the brakes, human performance and what happened to passengers inside the cars.

There is a 30 m.p.h. speed limit at the curve where the train derailed. A garbage train derailed near this curve in July. Weener said they will investigate if the incidents are related, but at this point there is no indication they are.

Cuomo said the MTA will cooperate with investigators to find out the reason for the cause and if anything can be done to prevent future incidents.

“If there’s a change the MTA can make? Great. That’s what it’s all about, but first we have to get the results of the investigation,” Cuomo said.

In response to questions about the tight curve, Cuomo said that can’t be the only reason because trains run on those tracks every day all year.

“It can’t just be the curve,” he said.

The NTSB has given the OK for the trains to be uprighted. Governor Cuomo said a crane is on the way to the site to upright the traincars.

Since arriving on Sunday afternoon, the NTSB recovered an event recorder but have not had a chance to analyze it yet.

According to sources, the engineer of the train, William Rockefeller, said he tried to apply air brakes, but the brakes did not work as he tried to make the turn. Rockefeller sustained injuries in the crash, but they were not considered life-threatening.

An official debriefing of the engineer has yet to take place.

For commuters wondering about how the derailment will change MTA services, the governor said the best place to check for information is www.mta.info.

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