Update: Commuter Train Crash in Hoboken NJ

A morning commute into New York turned deadly this morning due to a Pascack Valley line New Jersey Transit train crashing into the Hoboken train station. The Hoboken station is the terminus of many NJ transit lines, and is a major commuter hub which connects to Manhattan by Port Authority run PATH trains and midtown ferries.

Train 1614 was reported to have not slowed down as it approached its final stop, and after crashing though the bumper stop at the end of the track, crashed, at least partially, though the building, reportedly causing severe structural damage. Many passengers had convened in the front two cars prior to the final stop for their transfer to PATH trains. Reports will likely be coming in throughout the day today, but at the writing of this, there has been at least one fatality and dozens of injuries. First responders have responded to the scene and the rail station has been closed to the public. Those injured have been taken to local hospitals in the area.

Matt Lauer of NBC reports on the incident below.


Recent Train Accidents

Sadly, the accident today is one of a number of major rail accidents in the United States in the past few years.

Philadelphia Amtrak Train Derailment

In 2015 an Amtrak train derailed after it accelerated to over twice its normal speed. The driver of the train, who had a good record, had become distracted while listening to radio transmissions from a nearby train. This accident resulted in over 200 injuries and 8 fatalities. The train was not equipped with Positive Train Control (P.T.C.). After the accident Christopher A. Hart, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, said the following about the accident and P.T.C, “This shows that any human on even their best day can make a mistake That’s the reason P.T.C. is so important: because humans make mistakes.”

Bridgeport Metro-North Accident

In 2013, a Metro-North train traveling from New Haven Connecticut to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station became derailed due to a faulty cracked joint bar. Multiple lawsuits have been filed alleging neglect in maintaining the railroad lines. More than 70 people were injured in this derailment.

Hoboken PATH Train Accident

In 2011, a PATH train arriving at the Hoboken station crashed injuring 34. This accident which was likely caused by mechanical failure occurred on a Sunday morning.

Positive Train Control Systems Could Prevent Accidents

According to the Federal Railroad Administration:

“Positive Train Control (PTC) systems are integrated command, control, communications, and information systems for controlling train movements with safety, security, precision, and efficiency.  The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) mandated that PTC be implemented across a significant portion of the Nation’s rail industry by December 31, 2015.  The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published the final rule addressing PTC requirements on January 15, 2010, which consisted of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR) part 236; subpart I. FRA published final rule amendments on September 27, 2010 and on May 14, 2012. Lines requiring PTC are essentially Class I railroad main lines—over which 5 million or more gross tons are transported annually—that handle any poisonous-inhalation-hazardous (PIH) materials and any railroad main lines over which regularly scheduled intercity passenger or commuter rail services are provided. PTC is expected to be implemented over a total of approximately 70,000 miles of track.

PTC refers to communication-based/processor-based train control technology designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, over speed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train through a main line switch in the improper position. PTC systems vary widely in complexity and sophistication based on the level of automation and functionality being implemented, the system architecture used including wayside systems (e.g., non-signaled, block signal, cab signal, etc.), and the degree of train control.”


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Category: Accidents
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