Hoboken – Accident or Revenge?

By now, you probably have heard there has been a major train crash in the Hoboken NJ commuter rail station. It is basically a transfer station between New Jersey Transit and PATH, the subway system that carries commuters to the World Trade Center and the PATH line under Manhattan.



The report is that a commuter train that originated in New York failed to slow and hit the “end of track” bumper intended to stop the train before it hits the station, but it is intended to stop the train at very slow speed, not full speed.

There was a similar accident a few years ago in Chicago were a CTA driver managed to override the protections and plowed the train into the station below O’Hare airport. In that case it was like 3 AM and nobody on the train or the platform, but it took months to restore the operation.

The report is that part of the roof has collapsed. People who live in NJ and work in NYC have a big problem now. The alternative is to ride ferries across the Hudson, but NJT already runs beyond capacity.

I didn’t expect the Saudis to give the “go orders” until Friday after prayers. Maybe this was just an accident. Time will tell.

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2 Responses to Hoboken – Accident or Revenge?

  1. Fred Stiening says:

    Right now, my best guess is Mr Gallagher fell asleep. The deadman pedal requires more than a momentary involuntary sleep event… this is a push pull train where the engineer is riding in the front passenger car and remotely controlling the locomotive

  2. Fred Stiening says:

    The black box and camera in the cab have been recovered .

    The train had been going 8 mph as he entered the station, but was going 21 mph when it hit the bumper (not 30). He applied the brakes just before hitting the bumper, which says he was alert enough to react to the danger.

    NJT’s “fix” is exactly the wrong thing – they want the conductor (the ticket taker) to stand by the engineer when coming into the station. That will leave the conductor out of position for his main duty – opening the stairs and helping people off the train.

    One of the reasons passenger trains don’t have two people driving is a second person is a distraction for the engineer. The conductor is not a member of the Train Engineer Union, has no training in operating the equipment, isn’t certified to operate the controls and can’t get into the cab if he/she needed to.

    The engineer believed he was going 10 mph and has no memory other than that. My best guess is the remote control locomotive in the rear was still applying power for some reason. The cab door on the Comet 5 is sometimes left open, which can allow passengers to be a distraction.

    I can tell from the YouTube videos that the trains do have Automatic Train Control (ATC), which would apply brakes on a speeding train – but not after it had already entered the station. The “speed limit” at the end of the track is 0 mph, not 10 mph. Positive Train Control is much different than ATC and likely would have made no difference.

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