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FRA orders changes to New York's Metro-North line in wake of derailment

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Less than a week after a train derailed in the Bronx on Dec. 1, killing four people and injuring dozens more, the federal government has issued an emergency order telling New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make certain preventative changes to the Metro-North Railroad to ensure rail safety.

New York Daily News reported on Friday that the Federal Railroad Administration is requiring Metro-North to impose a new system that will alert engineers if they are traveling down the line too fast and activate the brakes if the engineers do not heed the warning. The change will affect areas of railroad in which the speed limit drops by 20 mph or more.

Each train will also require that two engineers be present at the controls until the system is satisfactorily updated. The attorney and union representatives for the lone engineer driving the ill-fated train say he "lost focus" or may have been experiencing "highway hypnosis" when the train careened around a 30-mph curve going 82 mph.

Furthermore, the FRA has asked the MTA to provide a list of track locations that require big slow-downs and an action plan outlining when they expect the signal updates to be completed.

"The MTA is working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration to review our policies and procedures in light of Sunday’s tragic derailment, and we will of course comply with whatever requirements the FRA directs us to follow," the New York agency said in response to the order, adding that it is "examining many other possible steps."

Two funerals were also held on Friday to memorialize victims of the derailment. James Lovell, one of the victims buried, was an audio technician for Today and was on his was to Rockefeller Center to work on preparing the Christmas tree lighting. NBC dedicated the lighting broadcast on Wednesday to his memory.

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