BOSTON (AP) – Investigators have ruled out track and brake problems as they seek to explain a commuter trolley collision this week that killed an MBTA operator and injured more than a dozen passengers, a federal official said Friday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins also said investigators are awaiting phone records that could help determine whether the trolley operator was on her cell before the crash Wednesday evening, as some passengers have reported.

“My understanding is it will take a while to be able to track down those records,” Higgins told reporters during the second on-site briefing conducted by her agency, which is leading the probe.

Operator Terrese Edmonds, 24, of Boston was killed when her trolley slammed into another slower-moving trolley just outside the Woodlands Station in suburban Newton.

A re-enactment of the crash was slated for Saturday at the same time and place as the accident after officials on Friday removed the train commanded by Edmonds. Officials are hoping to restore service as soon as possible and end commuter busing around the site.

The collision twisted over more than a third of the roof on the cab where Edmonds had been working. Firefighters spent seven hours struggling with the mangled wreckage before Edmond’s body was removed early Thursday morning.

Higgins said their investigation indicates that the train that was struck was traveling 3-4 miles per hour, while the train that rammed it was moving 37-38 mph. The speed limit in the area is 40 mph.

A Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority track geometry vehicle had inspected the affected track the day before the crash and found no problems. Those findings were confirmed by subsequent examinations, Higgins said.

In addition, investigators found the trolley brakes and brake pads were working and sufficient, while finding no evidence the emergency brake on Edmonds’ train was applied any more than the final instant before the collision.

Higgins said that when the brake is applied, it leaves a telltale trail of sand, but in the case of Edmonds’ train, sand was evident only at the collision point. In that case, it could have been knocked free by the collision itself.

AP-ES-05-30-08 1738EDT

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