A New Jersey commuter train carrying 250 passengers crashed in the Hoboken Terminal on Sept. 29 at about 8:45 in the morning. The train, which was operating at around 21 miles per hour, crashed into and then over the bumping post at the end of Terminal Track 5 Platform. The crash caused one fatality and more than 100 injuries after the roof of the train and a portion of the terminal roof collapsed.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash, and has released some preliminary data from the train’s event recorder, which showed that the train was operating at roughly 8 mph while in the yard outside of the terminal. Some 38 seconds before the crash, for reasons unknown, the throttle increased from the idle position to the “number 4” position, causing the train’s speed to nearly triple before slamming into the end of the terminal platform. The speed limit for trains inside the terminal is 10 mph. The train’s engineer, who had been working for the New Jersey Transit Authority for 29 years, said that he couldn’t remember the moments before the crash, and believed that he was operating the train at 10 mph coming into the terminal. It had been estimated that the investigation could take more than a year to complete.
Forward-facing video recorders installed on the train captured the collision. The videos show that the train’s horn sounded one blast, roughly a minute prior to the crash, and the train’s bell began sounding immediately after the crash, continuing to sound until the video terminated. The video shows the front of the train colliding with the bumper post, and then continuing over the bumper post and onto the main platform floor.
The Hoboken Terminal serves about 60,000 passengers daily, and will remain closed until engineers can assess whether the significant damage has affected the structural integrity of the building. Experts have said that this crash, coupled with two more crashes in the Northeast, could lead to calls for more aggressive action from regulators and tougher rules on equipment upgrades and staffing. Federal officials are pushing for “positive train control,” which is technology that can automatically stop or slow down a train. This technology is available and should be in use by the industry.
The last time the New Jersey Transit system was involved in a fatal accident was 1996. If you need more information on this subject, contact Warner Hornsby, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury and Products Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Warner.Hornsby@beasleyallen.com
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