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NTSB report: Cause of NJ Transit crash still undetermined

The latest report released by the National Safety

The latest report released by the National Safety Transportation Board said the NJ Transit train was moving at 21 mph when it crashed into Hoboken Station during the morning rush on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Credit: NTSB / Chris O’Neil

Investigators have found no mechanical issues to date that would have caused the crash of a NJ Transit commuter train last month at the Hoboken Terminal in which one person was killed and more than 100 injured, according to a preliminary report issued Thursday.

However, some key train and station areas were badly damaged in the Sept. 29 crash in Hoboken, New Jersey, and further testing will be required, according to the report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators found “ ... the cab car’s electrical communication network necessary for brake, signal, and propulsion control was destroyed in the accident, and that functional testing of key controlling components would be necessary to assess the mechanical condition of the train prior to the accident,” the report said.

Also Thursday, the Associated Press reported that NJ Transit had more accidents and paid more in fines for safety violations than any other commuter railroad in the country over the past five years.

The AP said its review of federal safety data showed trains run by NJ Transit, the second-largest commuter railroad, have been involved in 157 accidents since the start of 2011, three times as many as the largest commuter system, the Long Island Rail Road.

The latest NTSB report was generally consistent with what agency officials had said a few days after the crash. It said the train was doing 21 mph — just over double the in-station speed limit of 10 mph — when it hit the barrier, or bumping post, at the end of the tracks.

The train had been going 8 mph and the throttle was in the idle position less than a minute before impact, and about 38 seconds before the crash, the throttle was engaged and speed increased, the latest report said.

The throttle went back to idle and “engineer-induced emergency braking occurred less than one second before the collision with the bumping post,” the preliminary report said.

The engineer has told investigators he was doing the speed limit in the station, but has no memory of the crash.

A final report on what caused last month’s crash could take a year or longer to complete.


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