How Did the Hoboken Train Crash Happen?
According those who witnessed the Hoboken train crash, the New Jersey Transit train appeared to be carrying too much speed as it approached the platform. Jim Finan, a commuter from River Edge, New Jersey told Fox News that the train sped into the station “at full tilt” without showing any signs of slowing down.
The train was unable stop within the designated area, and instead slammed into a bumper block. Witnesses say the first train car actually clipped the roof of the terminal as it barreled over all of the bumpers on the track, finally coming to a complete stop on a concourse near the waiting area.
The first train car, which sustained the brunt of the damage in the Hoboken train crash, was essentially destroyed, with its roof caved in. Photos of the crash scene show the front of the train stopped well beyond the end of the tracks, tangled in a web of twisted steel and hanging wires.
Bhagyesh Shah told the media that he was riding in the back of the first car when it approached the station. Shah noticed that the train didn’t appear to be slowing down as it should. “It was a couple of seconds, but it felt like an eternity,” he said. The next thing he knew, the train plowed through the platform.
Shah noted that the first two cars of the train are usually jam-packed with people because it is easier to exit from there into the Hoboken station. Passengers who were in the second train car were forced to break open the windows in order to evacuate. Shah says he saw a woman pinned under concrete in the wake of the crash. Many others were bleeding.
Michael Larson, a New Jersey Transit worker, was surprised to hear that the death toll wasn’t much higher after surveying the damage. Larson was one of many to crawl on hands and knees into the wreckage to help pull people out. “One of the worst days I’ve ever seen,” he said.
According to a report by NBC News, the New Jersey Transit line was not equipped with positive train control, a safety technology that likely would have prevented the Hoboken train crash. Positive train control, or PTC, is an advanced system that uses GPS to monitor and control train movements. PTC can prevent train crashes, and derailments that occur as a result of excessive speed.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blamed the absence of PTC for the 2015 Amtrak 188 crash in Philadelphia that killed eight people. According to the NTSB, PTC could have prevented 145 train accidents that have occurred since 1969. All told, those accidents killed 288 people and injured 6,574 others.
The train accident law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, which has represented over 80 people in train crashes, including nine victims from the Amtrak 188 crash last year in Philadelphia, has been fighting for years to highlight the need for positive train control in order to save lives. The country’s railroads were supposed to be outfitted with PTC by the end of 2015 as part of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. But after telling the House Transportation Committee they would not be able to meet the deadline, Congress allowed a three-year extension to fully implement the life-saving technology.
Hoboken Train Crash Investigation
The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration have both dispatched teams to the site of the Hoboken train crash. It will likely take a year or more before the official cause of the Hoboken train crash will be released.
Officials will likely focus their investigation on the actions of the engineer prior to the accident, the conditions of the track and the train itself to determine if track failure or mechanical failure played a role.