NJ Train Crash Investigators Release Preliminary Results

In the wake of the New Jersey commuter train crash that killed one person and inflicted injuries on more than 100 others, investigators have been scrambling to uncover the cause.

One event recorder, or “black box,” was readily recovered from the rear of the train. The forward event recorder and forward-facing video camera located at the front of the train proved more difficult to recover because of the threat of asbestos toxicity. Now that these devices have finally been recovered, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have determined the cause, but not the reason behind it.

Speed was a major factor in train crash

As the train approached the station in Hoboken, the throttle was in the idle position and the train was traveling at eight miles per hour. Approximately 38 seconds prior to the crash, the speed of the train increased to 21 mph and the throttle was moved to the number four position. Immediately prior to the collision, the throttle moved back to the idle position.

“The NTSB has not determined probable cause and cautions against drawing conclusions from these facts alone,” stated a press release issued by the NTSB. The engineer of the train has reportedly told investigators that he doesn’t have any memory of the crash or the time prior to the crash.

A different New Jersey Transit engineer, who spoke to the Associate Press on the condition of anonymity, said that the throttle is supposed to be set to idle or the first position (the slowest) when entering the station. The fourth position on the throttle gives the train about half power. Because the tracks leading into this particular station are slightly downhill, the anonymous engineer pointed out that there is no conceivable reason why the throttle would need to be in a higher position than idle or the first position.

Additionally, trains are equipped with an alarm system that should have gone off when the train exceeded 20 mph. It is unknown if there were defects with the alarm system.

Recourse for victims of train accidents

Railroad collisions are among the most dangerous. Commuters rely on train engineers to follow safety protocols and on maintenance workers to ensure that the locomotive and all of its equipment is working as it should. When that trust is broken, lives can be lost. The NY personal injury lawyers of The Sanders Firm would like to extend our condolences to the family of the woman who lost her life in this unthinkable tragedy. Victims of the NJ railroad crash and other rail road crossing accidents may have options for legal recourse.

Experts say it could take a year or longer to complete the investigation into the crash, but victims should take action immediately to protect their legal rights. Once the counsel of an experienced lawyer has been retained, liability issues can be explored. After some railroad crashes, families may file lawsuits against the train’s engineer or conductor for negligent actions. In this particular case, the engineer of the train might have been operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or he may have simply been acting recklessly when he allegedly increased the speed of the train. Alternatively, it’s possible that there were defects or malfunctions in the equipment. If this is the case, then survivors may file a personal injury lawsuit against the entity responsible for maintaining the train.

The Sanders Firm has been providing effective legal advocacy services for New Jersey and New York residents for more than 46 years. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries due to the actions of another party, you can request complimentary legal guidance during a one-on-one consultation. Call 1.800.FAIR.PLAY today. Resources

  1. NPR, New Jersey Commuter Train Was Speeding Before Crash, https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/10/06/496947717/new-jersey-commuter-train-was-speeding-before-crash
  2. ABC News, NTSB: Train in New Jersey Crash Was Going Twice Speed Limit, https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/commuter-railroad-arrival-rule-station-crash-42609772