NJ Transit Commuter Train Crash at Hoboken Station Information

New Jersey Transit Pascack Valley Line commuter train #1614 slammed into an emergency safety barrier and then the train station itself at the Hoboken Terminal on Thursday, September 29, 2016, killing one person and injuring over 100 people who were either riding on the train or waiting on the platform at the terminal in order to board a train.  The train originated in Spring Valley, New York and wrecked in Hoboken, New Jersey. The one death caused by the accident was a 34 year-old attorney and mother of a one-year old who was tragically waiting on the platform to board the next train to New York city. 

Important Legal Information:

There is a Legal Deadline in the New Jersey Commuter Train Crash at Hoboken Station.
Because New Jersey Transit is a state-owned entity, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident - December 28, 2016 or potential legal rights against New Jersey Transit and the State of New Jersey will be forever barred.

There also may be a unique legal hurdle involved called discretionary function. To learn more about important legal issues related to a New Jersey Transit injury claim click here.


Kreindler Train Accident Attorneys Discuss the NJ Transit Commuter Train Crash in the Media


What We Know

The accident occurred on September 29, 2016 at approximately 8:45am EST.

The train had originally departed the Spring Valley, NY station at 7:23am on its way to its final destination in Hoboken, NJ.
The 400-foot long train consisted of a controlling passenger car (called the cab car), three passenger cars and one locomotive at the rear. The train was in "push mode" meaning that the diesel locomotive in the rear was pushing the four passenger cars in front of it. The train engineer should have been sitting in a small compartment built into the head coach or lead car as it approached the Hoboken Station.

The locomotive involved in the crash was GP40PH no. 4214, among the agency's oldest diesel-electrics, originally manufactured by General Motors between 1966 and 1968.

Cab Car #6306. Photo by Chris O'Neill, NTSB

The lead car as it approached Hoboken Station was a Comet V Cab Car #6036 manufactured by the French multinational firm Alstom. The Comet V cab car was likely put into service by NJ Transit between 2002 and 2004. 

 

Speed of the Train as it Approached Hoboken Station
Update - October 6, 2016: Upon initial analysis of the lead car's event recorder, NTSB investigators confirmed that the train was going 21 mph at the time of impact - more than twice the speed limit for trains nearing the station.
Additional data shows that the train had appropriately slowed down and was traveling at 8 mph only 38 seconds before the collision, but then inexplicably sped up to the maximum recorded speed of 21 mph as it entered the station. Just prior to the collision, the event recorder indicated that the throttle position went from #4 position to idle. And then "engineer-induced" emergency braking occurred less than 1 second before the collision with the Hoboken station's bumping post.   

The train’s engineer has told investigators that although he has no memory of the crash, he does recall the train operating at 10 mph as it approached the station. He also told investigators that the cab alerter was operating properly (in the 2013 MTA Spuyten Duyvil crash in the Bronx, an alerter system had been installed in the locomotive pushing the train, but not in the front cab).

Witnesses to the Hoboken crash say the approaching train first hit the safety bumper barrier, then went airborne and traveled about 40 feet and slammed into the wall of the train station's waiting room.

Signals: According to the NTSB, there were no traffic signal anomalies found on the tracks leading to the terminal.
A full signal study cannot yet be completed because the accident train remains in the terminal.

Track: NTSB investigators completed a walking inspection of the railroad track and found nothing that would have affected the performance of the train.

Injuries: 1 person waiting on the platform was killed at the time of the accident. 114 passengers, workers or other people were hurt. North Jersey’s state designated Level II Trauma Center for Hudson County, Jersey City Medical Center, treated 66 injured people from the crash and admitted 13 of the more seriously injured into the hospital. Hoboken University Medical Center treated twenty injury victims. Christ Hospital in Jersey City treated one injured person. 

Investigative Technology

Black Box #1:
Located in the locomotive which was in the back of the train as it approached Hoboken. 
Manufactured by Quantum Engineering of Orange Park, FL in 1995 (Invensys Rail acquired Quantum Engineering in 2008, which is now part of Siemens Rail Automation).

Installed 21 years ago - found by NTSB investigators to be not working or disconnected at the time of the accident.
FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) regulations require that the black boxes are inspected every 92 days.
No indication yet of when the non-working black box was last inspected.

Event Recorder from Cab Car.  Photo by Laquan Hudson, NTSB

Black Box #2: Located in the lead car. DVR and event recorder manufactured by Railhead Corporation.  
This black box has been recovered and was sent to Washington D.C. to have its data retrieved and analyzed. 
Information from the black box can show how fast the train was going, the throttle's position and if brakes were ever applied during the crash.

Video Cameras: The forward facing camera located in the front car as it approached the station has been recovered by NTSB investigators, but they have not released any further information yet.

Engineer's Cellphone: The NTSB has recovered the train engineer's cellphone and are analyzing it.

Eyewitness Accounts: The NTSB actively seeks personal recollections, videos and photographs from anyone who was a passenger or near the crash at the time of impact. Click here for more info.


Lack of PTC - Positive Train Control

Once again, it appears that the lack of congressionally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) may have contributed to another domestic U.S. rail disaster. This safety technology has existed for 40 years, NTSB listed it on their "Most Wanted" list in 1990, and Congress made it law 8 years ago in 2008, with a deadline of December 2015 for implementation. However, today the lifesaving technology has still not been added to most commuter trains in the United States. 

Unless PTC is implemented soon I’m very concerned that we’re going to be back in this room again, hearing investigators detail how technology that we have recommended for more than 45 years could have prevented yet another fatal rail accident.
— NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart ~ May 2016 following the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia

Kreindler has successfully cited PTC in recent train accident lawsuits

Amtrak 188.  Photo by Mark F. Levisay

2015 AMTRAK TRAIN CRASH & POSITIVE TRAIN CONTROL - PHILADELPHIA, PA

Our litigation in the deadly train crash of Amtrak Train 188 near Philadelphia continues as we demand to know why PTC was not installed in this case - given that it is one of the busiest track sections in the United States. Kreindler & Kreindler's experienced railroad liability team, including partners Andrew Maloney, David Cook, Noah Kushlefsky and Dan Rose currently represent victims in this terrible tragedy in which 8 people were killed and over 200 people were injured. 


MTA Spuyten Duyvil Derailment. Photo by MTA Photos

2013 MTA Crash & PTC - Bronx, NY 

Kreindler & Kreindler successfully used the lack of PTC while representing victims of the deadly 2013 crash and derailment of an MTA train near the Spuyten Duyvil train station in Bronx, New York. Although the Train Engineer had fallen asleep as a result of fatigue related to his health, we were still able to successfully argue that MTA should have had PTC installed, or at a minimum had two engineers on duty at the controls to prevent loss of control of the train.


NJ Transit Commuter Train Crash at Hoboken Station

PVL Car 6016.  Photo by Sandman Designs

2016 NJ Transit Commuter Train - Hoboken, NJ

In regards to victims of the Hoboken crash, passengers should be aware that before any lawsuits can be filed against New Jersey Transit, municipalities, or the State, a Notice of Claim must be filed with each entity within 90 days of the accident, but no later than December 28, 2016. In the tragic case involving death, a tolling provision provides that the 90 days begins to run after a surrogate court appoints a personal representative of the estate.


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Founded in 1950, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP - www.kreindler.com, maintains offices in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Long-regarded as the first and most prominent aviation accident law firm in the nation, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP has developed an intensive, experienced and well-funded practice in all aspects of transportation injury law - train & railroad, subway, bus, maritime and of course, aviation and helicopters. Kreindler transportation accident attorneys have recovered in excess of $3 billion dollars through trial or settlement for our clients.