The Metro-North passenger train that derailed Sunday in the Bronx, killing four people and injuring more than 60, was traveling at 82 mph entering a 30 mph curve, officials said at a news conference Monday.
National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said the speed was determined after examining the train’s two data recorders, taken from the wreckage after the accident. It is still too early to tell whether or not human error played a role in the fatal Metro North train derailment, Weener said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who, along with Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, joined Weener for the news conference, said, “When I heard about the speed, I gulped.”
The train, which was reported to have left Poughkeepsie at 5:54 a.m. and was due at Grand Central at 7:43 a.m., made nine earlier stops prior to the derailment with no brake issues, the NTSB said.
“The train did make nine stops before coming to this curve. So clearly the brakes were working a short time before,” Schumer said.
Earlier on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he expected that speed would be a factor in the derailment.
“I’m not an expert in this field,” Cuomo, who was among the first responders to the incident, said on NBC’s Today. “[But] working with the experts over the past day, I think it is going to be speed-related.”
“This was a tricky turn on the system, but it’s a turn that’s been here for decades and trains negotiate all day long,” he said. “It’s not about the turn. I think it’s going to turn out to be about the speed more than anything, and the operator’s operation of the train at that time.”
Officials began interviewing the engineer and conductor of the train on Monday, and will continue to speak with personnel. The engineer’s cell phone will also be examined for any pertinent information.
The passenger train derailed Sunday morning 100 yards north of the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx.
The four victims were identified by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Sunday night as 54-year-old Donna Smith of Newburgh, N.Y.; 58-year-old James Lovell of Cold Spring, N.Y.; 59-year-old James Ferrari of Montrose, N.Y.; and 35-year-old Ahn Kisook of Queens.
James Lovell was an audio technician for the Today show, and his longtime friend Janet Barton said he was taking the Metro-North to New York City Sunday to do lighting and sound work on the famed Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.