A high tech way to automatically slow down LIRR and Metro-North trains hitting precipitous curves is still three years out, the MTA told reporters yesterday.

The MTA lacks "positive train control," an automated system that keeps trains from going too fast or from getting too close to other trains, Capital reports. MTA chairman Tom Prendergast said yesterday that such technology is still a few years away, despite a 2008 federal law that requires it be applied across the system by the end of the year.

The Federal Railroad Administration has the power to fine noncompliant agencies, but seeing as the MTA only secured a loan for the system last month, legislators are considering extending the deadline up to seven years.

“We always had said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet the end-of-year deadline,” Prendergast said during a press conference. “There are discussions in Congress about extending that deadline and we want to put it in the perspective where we’re going to get it in place as soon as possible.”

In the meantime, Prendergast said the agency is implementing other, lower cost safety improvements along Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road routes, like speed warning signals and an automatic system that applies emergency brakes if a train is approaching a curve over the speed limit.

“The idea was to use existing technologies in advance of the implementation of P.T.C. to provide for over-speed protections,” Prendergast said. “We want to make sure that if a locomotive engineer doesn’t take appropriate protections, something else will be in space to bring the speed down.”