Officials in New York and New Jersey say they need more information to determine what caused a commuter train to plow into a rail station at a high rate of speed killing one woman and injuring 108 people.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the train’s engineer is in critical condition but was co-operating with investigators.
At a news conference, Christie said while the cause of the crash is unknown, there is “no indication that this is anything other than a tragic accident.”
The crash happened during the morning rush hour in Hoboken, N.J. Witnesses reported seeing one woman trapped under concrete and many people bleeding after the arriving New Jersey Transit train crashed through a barrier at the end of the track.
Christie said everyone who was trapped in the rubble has been rescued and taken to local hospitals and most of the injured were on board the train, not standing on the platform.
He said there’s no reason to believe there will be any more deaths. There were early reports that three people had been killed.
The train came to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform, collapsing a section of the metal shed roof.
‘It just never stopped’
Nancy Bido, a passenger on the train, told WNBC-TV in New York that the train didn’t slow as it pulled into the station. “It just never stopped. It was going really fast, and the terminal was basically the brake for the train,” she said.
The train was not equipped with a technology that is designed to slow speeding trains.
U.S. railroads are under government orders to install the system called positive train control, but the work has gone more slowly than expected. The deadline has been repeatedly extended and is now Dec. 31, 2018.
The investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board will include a look at how positive train control might have helped, according to vice-chair Bella Dinh-Zarr. Investigators will also compare today’s crash with a similar incident at the same station in 2011, which injured dozens.
“We always look at past history and every other factor,” Dinh-Zarr told reporters in Washington.
Hoboken, which is NJ Transit’s fifth-busiest station with 15,000 boardings per weekday, is situated just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.
Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said earlier, “We have multiple injuries, multiple critical injuries right now.” Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken.
She said she doesn’t know yet how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper. TV footage and photos from the scene showed the rail car was mangled.
Ross Bauer, an IT specialist who was heading to his Manhattan job from his home in Hackensack, was sitting in the third or fourth car when the train crashed.
“All of a sudden, there was an abrupt stop and a big jolt that threw people out of their seats. The lights went out, and we heard a loud crashing noise — like an explosion — that turned out to be the roof of the terminal,” he said. “I heard panicked screams, and everyone was stunned.”
Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into the Hoboken station. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.
“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah told WNBC-TV in New York. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”
Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told the Wall Street Journal that transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.”‘
The train had left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and crashed at 8:45 a.m., said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
“It simply did not stop,” WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”
NJ Transit provides more than 200 million passenger trips annually on bus, rail and light rail lines. More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.
A crash at the same station on a different train line injured more than 30 people in 2011. The PATH commuter train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks on a Sunday morning.
For the full story please visit CBC.ca