Tragedy struck New Jersey transit yesterday, when a packed train crashed into a “bumper block,” a barrier at the end of train tracks, sending it airborne and onto the concourse of the Hoboken station.
Though nearly impossible to believe, according to some eye witnesses the train “flew through the air.”
Inside, survivors reported a similarly chaotic scene: an estimated 250 passengers catapulted into the air, their bodies subject to the mercy of physics. As the lights went out, the erstwhile “straphangers” emerged from the capsized train cars, and into the disaster scene it had created: a world of smoke, metal and sparks.
The accident occured at 8:45am on the morning of Thursday, September 29th. Commuters will recognize this as dead in the heart of rush hour, when both the trains themselves and the stations that service them are, generally, packed to the gills with people.
Despite the unfortunate timing, there has only been one confirmed fatality. A 34-year old woman, waiting at the station platform’s edge, was taken far before her time: struck be falling debris. And while even one death is too much, and qualifies this scenario as deeply tragic, early prognostications feared many more lives would be lost. That being said, over 100 passengers and bystanders were injured in the direct aftermath of the crash.
What went wrong? Investigators only recently unearthed the “event recorder,” the train equivalent of an airplane’s “black box.” This device documents the particularities of derailments and other misfortunes. Now, they’ll seek to uncover what exactly caused this train to careen off track and beyond its designated stopping point, where it barreled through the station’s edifice and caused a partial caving-in of the terminal’s roof. Using a three-point set of data (train speed, throttle position, and brake usage), professional analysts will attempt to glue together the pieces and figure out just exactly caused this horrific catastrophe.
Was the train maintained properly? Were the engineer’s actions (or lack thereof) to blame? Of course, a malfunction in the railroad line’s tracks or signals could also be to blame.
Needless to say, in the aftermath of the crash, the scene was one of devestation, confusion and panic. Emergency personnel flood the scene, scavenging for survivors and those in need of medical attention. Fleets of emergency machinery arrived to try to sift through and clear out scads of precarious debris.
Service through Hoboken Station is indefinitely suspended with no clear re-opening date set in place. Elsewhere, schedules and routes have been altered and abbreviated, with delays stacking up across the two states. The commuter ripple effect moved in waves, from northern New Jersey to the five boroughs of Manhattan. Millions of business-people were forced to seek alternative methods of commute. Hoboken Station, one of New Jersey’s oldest and most well-trafficked hubs, will clearly never be the same again.
This crash is reminiscent of the May 2015 Amtrak accident, wherein a train traveling a portion of the “Northeast Corridor” which spans from Washington D.C. to New York City, derailed outside of Pennsylvania. That train was attempting to take a curved portion of track at a dangerously high speed: 102MPH. 8 people were killed in this accident. In light of that event, Kaplan Lawyers PC took an in-depth look at “positive train control,” which, according to Wikipedia, is a “system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements as an attempt to provide increased safety.” “PTC” systems use a four-fold approach to increasing train safety.
- Account for train separation and strive for collision avoidance.
- They enforce safe line speeds.
- They enact temporary speed restrictions when the situation calls for them.
- They seek to improve rail worker wayside safety.
For a closer look at the intricacies of PTC, please feel free to read our article on the subject, which can be found here.
Then, as now, we wonder: if the technology exists to keep our train-riding citizens safe, why are we not employing it?
Kaplan Lawyers PC
If you have been hurt in a train or subway accident of any kind, it is important that you seek the counsel of a compassionate, capable, and professional law team. At Kaplan Lawyers PC, our attorneys have the experience and expertise necessary to win you the compensation you deserve. As you focus on your recovery, we will handle all aspects of your legal process. Through the use of cutting-edge technology and tried-and-true technique, we will gather evidence and eyewitness testimony, build the foundations of your legal strategy, and maximize your compensation. Train accidents are harrowing ordeals, and if you or a loved one have been injured on or by a train you deserve to be repaid for not only the physical pain you’ve endured but the mental anguish you’ve experienced. For more information, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today. Our consultations are a free and easy way to get started.