Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Investigators seek why automated train didn't stop

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal investigators focused on why a computerized system failed to halt an oncoming train in a crash that killed nine people will for the first time Wednesday test the automatic controls that were designed to prevent such disasters.

At the time of the collision, the train was controlled primarily by computer, but there is evidence that the operator tried to slow it down.

"What we're trying to understand is how the automatic train control system works and if there were any faults," said Debbie Hersman of the National Transportation Safety Board told CBS' "Early Show." "Today is the first day that we're going to have access to the signal system and the tracks and the circuits to be able to test those."

The crash Monday occurred just after a train operator, who had been on the job about three months, started her shift. About eight miles down the red line track, another train was stopped. In the blink of an eye, the trailing train, slammed into a stopped one and jackknifed violently into the air, falling atop the first. Nine people were killed, including the train operator, and more than 70 were injured.

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