The MTA has restored service to the Metro-North Hudson Line, three days after the deadly train derailment that killed four and injured dozens of others. However, many are questioning whether the agency has done enough to ensure good safety.

Joseph Szabo, head of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration, sent a sternly-worded letter to the MTA noting that the MTA's "four serious accidents in less than seven months is simply unacceptable." The accidents cited are Sunday's derailment, the May train collision in Connecticut that injured 70, the May death of a Metro-North track worker, and July derailment of a garbage freight train.

NTSB board member Earl Weener said of Sunday's incident, "For more than 20 years, the NTSB has recommended the use of positive train control technology. It’s possible positive train control could have prevented it." The Post reports, "The law was passed after a horrific 2008 California train crash where an engineer blew a red signal while texting, killing 25 people. The MTA said it will cost the agency almost $1 billion to implement PTC on the country’s two largest railroads — Metro-North and the LIRR — and has sought a three-year extension."

The MTA said in a statement yesterday, "The MTA began work to install Positive Train Control on the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad in 2009. To date, the MTA has budgeted nearly $600 million for elements of PTC installation, including a $428 million procurement last month for a system integrator. Full implementation is estimated to cost $900 million, and the MTA will make sure the appropriate funding is made to implement PTC on the most aggressive schedule possible.

"However, implementing PTC by the 2015 deadline will be very difficult for the MTA as well as for other commuter railroads, as the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have both concluded. Much of the technology is still under development and is untested and unproven for commuter railroads the size and complexity of Metro-North and LIRR, and all of the radio spectrum necessary to operate PTC has not been made available. The MTA will continue its efforts to install PTC as quickly as possible, and will continue to make all prudent and necessary investments to keep its network safe."

MTA CEO Thomas Prendergast also said, "When you automate stuff, people start to withdraw from the decision-making process. The threshold of automation you do not cross lightly."

The NTSB has said that the train was going 82 mph before heading into the sharp turn at Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx. The recommended speed is 30 mph, and the train's operator was apparently "zoned out" or in a "daze" before realizing the turn was coming up. Still, a lawyer said to the Wall Street Journal, "You have to wonder if Metro-North could have done something more to prevent such a catastrophic accident."