NEW YORK - A New York commuter train that derailed on Sunday morning, killing four people, was traveling nearly three times faster than the speed limit for the curved section of track where it crashed, officials said on Monday.
The seven-car Metro-North train's brakes were working properly but were applied just seconds before it derailed, investigators said. They said black-box recorders recovered from the train showed it had been traveling at 82 miles per hour before entering the 30-mile-per-hour (48-kph) curve.
The recorders showed the train's brakes were applied "very late in the game," National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener told reporters.
He said that the NTSB was investigating driver error as a possible cause of the crash, but had not yet ruled out other possibilities. NTSB officials did not indicate how long their review would take.
Sunday's crash, in which 11 people were also critically injured, snarled travel on Monday for the roughly 26,000 people who normally ride Metro-North's Hudson line serving suburbs north of New York City.
It was the latest in a string of problems to affect the railroad, including a May derailment in Connecticut that injured more than 70 people.
The NTSB's Weener said the train was speeding even before it entered the curve as the posted speed limit on the straightaway is 70 miles per hour. A freight train derailed in the same place in July.
US Senator Charles Schumer of New York said he had been stunned to learn how fast the Metro-North commuter train was going before the derailment.
"When I heard about the speed, I gulped," Schumer said at a press conference in Yonkers, New York, not far from the crash site. "It sort of takes your breath away, for a train to be going 82 miles per hour around that curve is just frightening. And the fact that it was going 82 miles per hour, even in the 70 mile per hour zone before the curve started raises so many questions."
The crash happened about 100 yards (meters) north of Metro North's Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx, an area where the Hudson and Harlem rivers meet. One car was toppled near the water.