LOS ANGELES — Investigators say the commuter train engineer in Friday's deadly rail collision in Los Angeles did not hit the brakes before crashing into a freight train.

The National Transportation and Safety Board also announced that both engineers had only four to five seconds to react to the sight of other train coming around the bend.

Commuter train officials have blamed its engineer for running a red light and crashing into an oncoming Union Pacific freight on Friday in Chatsworth. The NTSB says the freight engineer hit the brakes about two seconds before the impact, which killed 25 people.

The NTSB announced details from its investigation after conducting a visibility test Tuesday to determine when the engineers would have been able to see each other.

Investigators say the commuter train engineer in Friday's deadly rail collision in Los Angeles did not hit the brakes before crashing into a freight train.

The visibility test involving stand-in engines is part of the ongoing investigation into the crash that the Metrolink commuter-rail service has blamed on the failure of its engineer to stop for a red signal.

In the moments before Friday's collision in the Chatsworth section of Los Angeles, a Union Pacific freight train had exited a tunnel, while the commuter train was rounding a horseshoe bend.

NTSB officials said the test would be the final one conducted at the crash site. Officials hoped to open the newly repaired tracks to freight and commuter service by Tuesday afternoon.

The collision between the Metrolink train and a Union Pacific freight was the deadliest rail disaster in the U.S. in 15 years.

In the nation's capital Tuesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation requiring the installation of technology to prevent train crashes and warned that there would be more disasters without it.

The Utah Transit Authority's FrontRunner trains already have the device, called "Positive Train Control System." It would brake trains before a collision and prevents engineers from exceeding speed limits, according to UTA spokeswoman Carrie Bohnsack-Ware.

Feinstein hopes to nudge Congress to pass her requirement for so-called positive train control before recessing at the end of next week. The House and Senate have already passed separate legislation to implement the technology but time is running out to reconcile the differing versions.

The technology can engage the brakes if a train misses a signal or gets off track. It has been installed on a fraction of U.S. rail tracks but not on the one where Friday's crash occurred.

Feinstein blamed "a resistance in the railroad community in America" to the price tag of installing the systems.

Failure to act now, she said, amounts to "negligence, and I'll even go as far to say I believe it's criminal negligence not to do so."

The Association of American Railroads, the lobbying arm for the freight railroads, has said it does not oppose the legislation but has concerns that the technology has not been perfected.

Meanwhile, federal investigators were continuing to look into whether the engineer of the Metrolink commuter train was text messaging on a cell phone before Friday's deadly wreck. The engineer, Robert Sanchez, was killed in the collision.

Investigators with the NTSB did not find a cell phone belonging to Sanchez in the wreckage, but two teenage train buffs who befriended him told KCBS-TV that they received a text message from him a minute before the crash.

NTSB board member Kitty Higgins said her agency issued a subpoena to get the engineer's cell phone records. She said Verizon Wireless has five days to respond to the demand.

According to Bohnsack-Ware, UTA has not had any reported problems or incidents with drivers going counter to company policy.

The code also governs all railroads in the western U.S.

The codes states:

• "Games, reading, or electronic devices, unless permitted by the railroad, employees on duty, must not play games. Read magazines, newspapers, or other literature not related to their duties. Or use electronic devices not related to their duties."

• "Train Operators are issued limited use cell phones (no texting capability) which they can use to contact the Train Host or to contact the Controller should the radio system fail."

On activities in the cab:

• "Employees are not permitted to eat, drink, smoke, communicate on cellular telephones, or read non-UTA issued materials in the operating cab of any train.

• Any items carried by the Train Operator must be kept packaged and out of sight at all times.

Higgins also said tests at the California crash site showed the red and yellow signals are working properly, and there were no obstructions that may have prevented the engineer from seeing the red light.

"The question is, did he see it as red?" Higgins said. "Did he see it as something else? Did he see it at all?"

Jerry Romero, who normally takes Metrolink 111 home but skipped it Friday to pick up a bicycle, said he was disturbed by reports that the engineer may have been texting.

"That would be pretty disturbing in respect to what we're going through as a society, this fascination we have with gizmos," he said.

The state's top rail safetyrail-safety regulator is seeking an emergency order banning train operators from using cell phones.

"Some railroad operators may have policies prohibiting the personal use of such devices, but they're widely ignored," Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said Monday.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the order Thursday.

Metrolink prohibits rail workers from using cell phones on the job, but federal regulations do not address the issue, Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Steven Kulm said.

In 2003, the NTSB recommended that the FRA regulate the use of cell phones by railroad employees on duty after finding that a coal train engineer's phone use contributed to a May 2002 accident in which two freight trains collided head-on in Texas. The coal train engineer was killed and the conductor and engineer of the other train were critically injured.


Contributing: Lynn Arave, Deseret News