N.J. Transit Train Accelerated Before Hoboken Crash, NTSB Says

A N.J. Transit train departs from Montvale, N.J. on Feb. 10, 2016.
A N.J. Transit train departs from Montvale, N.J. on Feb. 10, 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The N.J. Transit train that crashed into Hoboken Terminal last week accelerated to 21 mph before the crash, the NTSB said today.

The train was traveling 8 mph about 38 seconds before the crash, then sped up.

Other findings:

  • Information from the forward-facing video and event data recorders was successfully recovered Thursday at the NTSB’s recorder laboratory here. Both recorders appear to have been working as designed, and captured the engineer’s entire trip that morning, including the accident sequence. The forward-facing, color video from the cab car of train 1614 is of good quality and includes audio from an exterior microphone. Information obtained from the recorders includes:
  • The forward facing video showed the cab car colliding with and overriding the bumping post at the end of the track #5 platform at the Hoboken Terminal. A large flash was observed as the car collided with the panel just beyond the bumping post.
  • The forward facing video recorder captured the sound of one blast of the train’s horn about one minute before the collision, while the train was in the yard leading to the terminal. The train’s bell began sounding shortly afterward and continued until the end of the recording.
  • The event recorder indicates throttle increased from idle to the #4 position while the train was traveling about 8 mph, approximately 38 seconds before the collision. Train speed began to increase and reached a maximum of about 21 mph.
  • According to the event recorder data the throttle position went from #4 to idle just prior to the collision, and then engineer-induced emergency braking occurred less than a second before the collision with the bumping post.
  • The event recorder shows train speed was about 21 mph when it collided with the bumping post. Event recorder speeds during the final seconds are consistent with train speed estimates obtained from the NTSB’s preliminary analysis of images from the forward facing video camera.

A group of technical experts from the NTSB and the parties to the investigation is scheduled convene at NTSB headquarters, Washington, Oct. 11, to continue to verify and validate the data recovered from both cab car recorders.

No analysis is provided in the facts released from the event and video recorder data extractions. The NTSB has not determined probable cause and cautions against drawing conclusions from these facts alone. Analysis of the findings from these recorders and from other facts gathered during our comprehensive investigation will take place after the factual record is complete.