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When a Metro-North train jumped the tracks in the Bronx on Sunday morning, killing four people and injuring more than 70, it was going 82 miles per hour, on a 30 m.p.h. curve. Why it hit that horrific speed — whether because the engineer was sleeping, distracted or incapacitated, or because of some catastrophic mechanical failure — is a question for the National Transportation Safety Board, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs Metro-North, and criminal investigators and prosecutors.

The question for the rest of us is why that train — and thousands of other trains in commuter and freight railroads across the country — had no automated system to slow or stop it when it ran out of control.

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