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Driver error likely cause of New York commuter train crash

Investigators probing this week’s fatal train crash on the New York City Metro rail network still to examine the condition of the tracks and signals near the accident site.

They have already ruled out brake failure, and the driver has admitted to “zoning out” shortly before the crash.

Four people died when a Metro North passenger train left the tracks in the Bronx at 7.20am local time on Sunday.

The independent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has set up a “go-team” to investigate the accident.

Based on data recovered from the train’s black box recorder there is no indication that the brakes were not functioning properly on the Metro North train. Train operator Metro North performed several brake tests on accident train prior to the beginning of the trip and no anomalies were reported, the NTSB has confirmed.

It has also confirmed that the driver was running his regularly scheduled route, making two round trip runs each day, with his typical day lasting around nine hours. He had been running this route, full time since 17 November. This was the second day of his five day work week.

The team is being led by rail safety investigator Mike Flanigon and includes specialists in a variety of fields.

NTSB board member Earl Weener told reporters: “The team involves several sub-teams. There will be a track team, which will look at the condition of the tracks leading to the point of derailment, trying to identify any anomalies.

“There will be a signals team looking at the condition of the signalling system and looking for any data that may have been reported by the signalling system.”

He said a mechanical equipment team would look at the passenger cars, the braking mechanism, the condition of mechanical equipment, and data from the event recorders.

“The operations team will be looking at what procedures were in place and how they were followed.

“The human performance team will be looking at the performance of the train crew and identifying any anomalies,” he added.

“Finally the survival factors team will be documenting the interior of the cars and trying to understand exactly how people were injured or killed.”

The NTSB it expected to be at the crash scene for up to 10 days.

This is an updated version of the story that appeared in the print version of NCE.

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