New Jersey train crash

One of two black boxes recovered

Investigation into crash which killed one and injured 114 others expected to take 7-10 days

An NJ Transit worker redirecting commuters after the train crash at the Hoboken terminal on Thursday. The collision toppled support columns and created chaos.
An NJ Transit worker redirecting commuters after the train crash at the Hoboken terminal on Thursday. The collision toppled support columns and created chaos.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

HOBOKEN (New Jersey) • Investigators have recovered one of two black box recorders aboard a commuter train that crashed into a station in Hoboken, New Jersey, killing one person and injuring 114.

The event recorder was removed on Thursday night from the locomotive at the rear of the New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) train that slammed into the terminal building during the morning rush hour, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesman Bella Dinh-Zarr said yesterday.

Investigators have been unable to get to the other recorder in the train's front car because of debris.

The recorder holds data that includes the train's speed, throttle position and use of brakes. The NTSB expects the investigation to take seven to 10 days, Ms Dinh-Zarr said.

Train No. 1614, originating from Spring Valley, New York, was at the end of its hour-long journey when it hit the Hoboken terminal building.

The collision toppled support columns and created chaos, with witnesses describing terrifying scenes of damage.

The crash killed a 34-year-old Hoboken woman, the New Jersey medical examiner's office said, correcting earlier reports that said three people had died.

The crash also injured 114 people, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told CNN. Mr Christie said the crash appeared to be accidental.

The train's engineer, or driver, was injured and taken to hospital. He was later released, officials said, without providing details.

Media identified the engineer as Mr Thomas Gallagher, citing unnamed sources, and said he was cooperating with investigators. Mr Gallagher is said to have worked for NJ Transit for 29 years and began operating trains about 18 years ago, the Daily Mail Online reported.

Yesterday, thousands who rely on the Hoboken terminal faced longer-than-usual commutes and heavy crowds as the NJ Transit train service in and out of the terminal, one of the busiest transit hubs in the New York City area, was suspended,

In May 2011, a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey train had crashed at Hoboken station, injuring more than 30 people. An investigation determined excessive speed was the main cause of the accident.

An NTSB official said the agency would look at similarities between that crash and Thursday's.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said it was obvious the train came into the station too fast, but it was unclear why.

The cause could be human error or technical failure, he said, adding that it was too early to say whether an anti-collision system known as positive train control (PTC) - which NJ Transit has not installed on its trains - could have prevented the crash. PTC is designed to halt a train if the driver misses a stop signal, and advocates cite it for helping to combat human error.

Railroads were required to adopt PTC by last December, before Congress passed a law allowing them to delay installation for three to five years.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'One of two black boxes recovered'. Print Edition | Subscribe