NTSB Official: Metro-North Train Was Speeding At 82 Mph When It Derailed

'When I Heard About The Speed, I Gulped,' Sen. Charles Schumer Says

While many survivors had been discharged from hospitals by Monday afternoon, eight were still at St. Barnabas Hospital — some in the intensive care unit with spinal injuries, according to Dr. David Listman, the emergency department director.

Six patients remained in at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center as of late Monday afternoon, hospital officials said. Two were reported in critical condition.

The MTA identified those killed Sunday as Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose; and Kisook Ahn, 35, of Queens.

James Lovell, Donna Smith, Kisook Ahn and James Ferrari (not pictured) were killed Sunday in a Metro-North Train derailment in the Bronx. (credit: CBS 2)

James Lovell, Donna Smith, Kisook Ahn and James Ferrari (not pictured) were killed Sunday in a Metro-North Train derailment in the Bronx. (credit: CBS 2)

Three of the dead were found outside the train, and one was found inside, authorities said. Autopsies were to be conducted Monday by the New York City Medical Examiner’s office, but results were not immediately available.

Derailment Hampers Commute

Ahead of the Monday morning commute, the 26,000 weekday riders on the Hudson line to brace for crowded trains — in a trend that could continue for some time to come.

The MTA provided shuttle buses Monday to ferry passengers between stops and to the Harlem line, but urged riders who could work from home to do so.

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“We’d like to get service up toward the end of the week,” Cuomo said.

Donovan said no major delays were reported during the early part of the rush hour.

‘Save Money And Safety Second’

A former Metro-North maintenance worker told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell the railroad cuts corners to save money.

William Herbert’s wife, Maria Herbert, was an assistant conductor on the derailed train. She was injured and taken to the hospital to be checked out, he said.

“Thank God she’s alive,” said Herbert.

Herbert said he worked in the maintenance department for 25 years and said the fatal crash was an accident waiting to happen.

“I mean, everybody that I know, my friends that work there, are surprised that something like this didn’t happen sooner,” Herbert told Haskell. “When I worked there, and I’m sure it’s the same thing, it’s like save money and safety second. And they always say safety first and that’s not the case.”

NTSB Urges Railroad Technology

As deadly as the derailment was, the toll could have been far greater had it happened on a weekday, or had the lead car plunged into the water instead of nearing it. The train was about half-full at the time of the crash, rail officials said.

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 percent 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.

Such systems can slow trains in some circumstances but not bring them to a halt, said Grady Cothen, a former Federal Railroad Administration safety official.

Sunday’s accident came six months after an eastbound train derailed in Bridgeport, Conn., 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.

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