Many trains don't use widely available auto brakes

By David B. Caruso

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Dec. 15 2013 9:40 a.m. MST

In this Dec. 1, 2013 file photo, emergency personnel respond to the scene of a Metro-North passenger train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York. Metro-North trains are equipped with an automatic breaking system that might have prevented the crash, but the system was in place to regulate the distance between trains, not to control speeds as trains approached curves, or passed over hills and bridges. Since the crash, the speed limit was lowered on the approach to the curve, plus an alarm will sound and an automatic braking system will engage is a train approaches the bend too fast.

John Minchillo, File, Associated Press

NEW YORK — A train that derailed in New York City this month had an automatic breaking system that might have prevented the crash, but it wasn't set up to enforce speed limits on the curve where the wreck happened.

Four people died when a Metro-North commuter train failed to slow as it approached a tight curve in the Bronx.

The driver told investigators he nodded at the controls.

Metro-North trains have equipment that will sound an alarm and hit the brakes if an engineer exceeds a designated speed or blows through a red light.

But like many other rail systems, it is configured mainly to keep trains from hitting each other, not regulate speeds on curves, hills or bridges.

The railroad is making changes to allow automatic braking in more locations.

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