New Jersey Transit Crash: What we know and the questions that remain
(CNN) — The investigation continues into a deadly rush hour commuter train wreck Thursday at one of the busiest transit hubs in the New York area. Here’s what we know so far:
What we know: About 8:45 a.m. New Jersey Transit train #1614 crashed into a platform at Hoboken Terminal, the last stop on the Pasack Valley line, leaving a scene of chaos and carnage. At least one person on the platform was killed and more than 110 were injured.
What we don’t know: The train was running a few minutes behind schedule when it flew into Hoboken. It’s not clear why it was late or whether that had anything to do with the crash. The extent of damage is still being assessed.
Why didn’t the train stop?
What we know: The cause is still under investigation, but witnesses have said the train was traveling at a high speed as it entered the station instead of slowing down. It overran its stopping point and barreled through a barrier intended to stop it, hurtling into the air and through the concourse before it came to a stop.
What we don’t know: It’s unclear how fast the train was going. An event recorder recovered from the locomotive will reveal information such as the train’s speed.
Investigators are looking into whether “positive train control” could have prevented the crash. New Jersey Transit has not yet installed PTC, which uses GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor trains and stop them from colliding, derailing or speeding.
Several officials, including the New Jersey and New York governors, have said it’s too early in the investigation to determine whether PTC could have prevented the accident. Congress originally required the safety system to be installed by the end of 2015, but extended the deadline to the end of 2018 to avoid a shutdown of the nation’s railroads.
It also remains to be seen whether the train was equipped with an “alerter” system, which requires engineers to respond to alerts, sound an alarm if they are unresponsive and eventually brake the train in an emergency.
What about the train engineer?
What we know: Thomas Gallagher, 48, was treated and released from a hospital. Gallagher has been an employee of New Jersey Transit for 29 years. He is cooperating with law enforcement officials.
What we don’t know: Could he have done something to prevent the crash? Was he in control of the train when it slammed into barrier? The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Who are the victims?
What we know: The deceased has been identified as Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken. She was standing on the platform and was hit by Debris. She worked for software company SAP in the legal department in Brazil but left the company earlier this year. The company expressed condolences in a statement.
At one point, area hospitals reported taking in 112 injured people, though the number has fluctuated throughout the day. Gov. Chris Christie said 114 people were hurt.
What will happen to the station?
What we know: The affected concourse suffered severe damage. When the train slammed into the barrier and went airborne it hit several support beams holding up a canopy that covered the tracks. The impact brought down parts of the canopy onto the tracks; other pieces crashed onto the platform, causing injuries and structural damage. New Jersey Transit police had to cut power to that part of the station because of wires dangling from the ceiling.
New Jersey Transit rail service has been suspended. The Hudson Bergen Light Rail service from Hoboken resumes Friday
The station, one of the oldest in the country, is big, with multiple platforms serving different public and private rail and bus lines. PATH Train service, a rapid transit system that connects New York and New Jersey, is fully restored.
For the latest service updates, check the NJ Transit website.
What we don’t know: How long the service disruption will last and when the concourse will reopen.
The key to reopening the Hoboken terminal is making sure the building is 100% safe from a structural perspective, Christie says. Only then will it reopen and not “a minute earlier,” he said.