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Train in fatal Hoboken crash went 21 mph into station, feds say

The Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken, N.J., on Oct.

The Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken, N.J., on Oct. 1, 2016, after a commuter train crash Sept. 29, 2016. Credit: AP

A New Jersey Transit train gathered speed in the moments before it slammed into a barrier at the end of tracks in Hoboken terminal last week at 21 mph, federal investigators said Thursday.

The event recorder taken from the front of the train showed it was going about 8 mph 38 second before the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a news release.

The throttle then moved from the idle position and “train speed began to increase and reached a maximum of about 21 mph,” the NTSB said in a news release.

The agency said in announcing the details that it was not reaching any conclusion about what caused the crash last Thursday in which one person on the platform was killed and more than 100 were injured.

The train engineer has told investigators that he was going the speed limit of 10 mph in the station, but he does not remember the crash.

The NTSB said video and event recorders captured the sound of one blast from the train’s horn about one minute before impact, and the train’s bell began sounding shortly after the horn and continued until the end of the recording.

The forward-facing video showed the front car “colliding with and overriding the bumping post at the end of the track #4 platform at the Hoboken Terminal. A large flash was observed as the car collided with the panel just beyond the bumping post,” the NTSB said.

The news release did not say why the train might have increased speed, and an NTSB spokesman said the release spoke for itself.

The NTSB said it could be a year or more before it finishes its investigation.

Hours before the NTSB’s latest report, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the Hoboken crash, combined with other deadly train accidents in recent years, spoke to a larger problem among railroads in the region.

“There needs to instilled throughout the Northeast, and particularly on New Jersey Transit, a culture of safety,” Schumer said at a Roslyn Heights news conference on an unrelated topic.

“Profitability, being on time, saving money—there’s a lot of goals, and I understand that. But safety has not been high enough up,” he said.

With Alfonso Castillo

State & Region