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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Two days after the deadliest train crash in the history of the Metro-North Railroad, investigators on Thursday sought to shed light on a central mystery of the crash: how a train-on-car crash spread its devastation to the interior of the train.

A federal safety official, asked at a briefing about the portion of the electrified third rail that tore through the front of the train, said the way Metro-North trains draw power from the third rail is different from other rail agencies.

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