1 Dead, More Than 100 Injured In New Jersey Train Crash
A commuter train crash in New Jersey has left one woman dead and injured at least 114 passengers, raising serious questions about safety standards on trains and subway systems nationwide.
The train accident occurred at about 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, in the midst of morning rush hour, as a New Jersey commuter train slammed into the station in Hoboken, New Jersey. Train 1614 originated in Rockland County, New York, and plowed through a concrete barrier and into a wall of the Hoboken Terminal, causing part of the station to collapse.
The cause of the New Jersey train crash is still being investigated, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a notification yesterday saying that the accident is under investigation. However, a lack of certain safety features on the New Jersey commuter train have already begun to raise questions about whether the incident could have been avoided.
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Media reports indicate that Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, was killed when debris fell on her as the station partially collapsed. At least 114 others, mostly passengers, were injured as well, including two passengers with life-threatening injuries.
The train’s engineer, Thomas Gallagher, 48, was also hospitalized, but was released and is reported as being in stable condition. He is reportedly cooperating with federal and state investigators and his blood has tested negative for alcohol and narcotics.
New Jersey Transit officials say it is unclear whether the terminal is safe. The station, located in the 110 year old Beaux-Arts building, may have suffered severe structural damage that could threaten the building’s structural integrity.
In an alert issued this morning, New Jersey Transit warned that rail service into and out of the Hoboken Terminal is suspended, but that Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service is running full service into and out of Hoboken Station. A number of other rail lines were also affected by the crash and the transit service told customers to brace themselves for overcrowding and possible delays.
New Jersey Transit workers have said that the train is supposed to enter the station at about 10 miles per hour, however, witnesses and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have said that it appears that the train rammed into the station at a high rate of speed.
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) officials say there was no positive train control technology in place to slow or stop the train if the engineer failed to apply the brakes at the proper time, which may have prevented the crash.
According to the FRA, in 2008 Congress required railroad mainlines, including commuter rail passenger services traveling between cities and those carrying hazardous materials, to have positive train control technology by December 31, 2015. In late 2015, however, Congress extended that deadline for at least three years. Railroads were required to submit a revised implementation plan by January 26, 2016.
Positive Train Control (PTC) technology is believed to have been able to prevent a number of previous, deadly, railway accidents. In May 2015, experts say PTC could have prevented the crash of Amtrak 188, which careened off the tracks while taking a turn at more than 100 mph on a segment of track with a 50 mph speed limit. Eight people were killed in that accident.
As of July 2016, none of the New Jersey Transit trains have positive train controls, according to media reports.
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