The Long Island Railroad train that crashed into a bumping block and ultimately a small structure believed to be a work area at Atlantic Terminal on Wednesday, injuring over 100 people, was going more than twice the speed limit inside the station, according to investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board. Though federal officials are still trying to determine why the train did not slow down or stop properly, investigators do believe the train was traveling at more than 10 miles per hour when it crashed into the bumper, more than double the speed limit of 5 miles per hour.
According to news reports, the train engineer is unable to remember hitting the bumper. He has been an engineer for the LIRR since 2000 and had been working this particular night shift route for the past year. The engineer's name has not yet been released, but Turpin revealed that he is 50 years old and had been nearing the end of his overnight shift, which started at midnight, when he crashed into the block at around 8:30 a.m. He had also just returned to work after a three-day break.
Was the Accident Preventable?
The train’s computer systems experts wonder if technology called Positive Train Control — or PTC — could have made a difference and prevented the train from smashing into the station. PTC is not a magic bullet, but there's a good chance it may have helped prevent the accident.
“PTC would have brought the train into whatever speed limit was set for that platform. It doesn't allow over-speeding,” said transportation safety expert Carl Berkowitz. “Let’s say the station speed is 5 mph. PTC would not allow the train to go over that speed.”
PTC relies on GPS satellites, radio towers and ground sensors to monitor a train’s speed and location. If it detects a train is going too fast or being operated unsafely — onboard computers kick in to slow or stop it.