NJ Transit train crashes inside Hoboken station

 A commuter train plowed into the bustling Hoboken rail station during the morning rush hour Thursday, killing at least one person and injuring more than 100 others, some critically, in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables, authorities said.

NJ Transit advisory:

Rail service is suspended in/out of Hoboken due to a train accident at Hoboken station. NJT bus/private carriers, New York Waterway cross-honoring rail tickets/passes. PATH & HBLR is suspended in/out Hoboken. Emergency number for all calls regarding this incident is 855 336-1775.

Witnesses reported seeing one woman trapped under concrete and many people bleeding after the arriving New Jersey Transit train crashed through a barrier at the end of the track. The train came to a halt in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform, collapsing a section of the metal shed roof.

Nancy Bido, a passenger on the train, told WNBC-TV in New York that the train didn’t slow as it pulled into the station. “It just never stopped. It was going really fast, and the terminal was basically the brake for the train,” she said.

The cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators.

Hoboken, which is NJ Transit’s fifth-busiest station with 15,000 boardings per weekday, is situated just across the Hudson River from New York City. It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City. Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.

Democratic Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who represents Hoboken, said transit officials told him one person has died and two were critically injured. He didn’t know whether the fatality and critical injuries were on the train or platform.

Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said earlier, “We have multiple injuries, multiple critical injuries right now.” Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken.

She said she doesn’t know yet how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper. TV footage and photos from the scene showed the rail car was mangled.

Ross Bauer, an IT specialist who was heading to his Manhattan job from his home in Hackensack, was sitting in the third or fourth car when the train crashed.

“All of a sudden, there was an abrupt stop and a big jolt that threw people out of their seats. The lights went out, and we heard a loud crashing noise — like an explosion — that turned out to be the roof of the terminal,” he said. “I heard panicked screams, and everyone was stunned.”

Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into theHoboken station. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.

“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah told WNBC-TV in New York. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”

Brian Klein, whose train arrived at the station after the crash, told the Wall Street Journal that transit police ushered everyone aboard his train into a waiting room, “then quickly started yelling, ‘Just get out! We don’t know if the building is going to hold.'”

The train had left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. and crashed at 8:45 a.m., said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.

“It simply did not stop,” WFAN anchor John Minko, who witnessed the crash, told 1010 WINS. “It went right through the barriers and into the reception area.”

‘New sense of urgency’ for safety upgrades

Philadelphia attorneys Tom Kline and Robert J. Mongeluzzi, who represent several victims of last year’s deadly derailment of Amtrak 188 in Frankford, said Thursday that the Hoboken crash shows the need for immediate nationwide passenger rail car and system safety inspections.

“The American riding public has shockingly once again had its trust and confidence in passenger rail operators shattered with this latest fatal rail accident,” Kline said. “One such accident is unacceptable, but this string of fatal tragedies underscores a new sense of urgency to ensure that, among other safeguards, automatic train braking (including positive train control) systems are in place and operational ASAP on every mile of every rail corridor throughout the United States. This is another possible case where deferring safety-related spending is costing, not saving, lives.”

NJ Transit provides more than 200 million passenger trips annually on bus, rail and light rail lines. More than 100,000 people use NJ Transit trains to commute from New Jersey into New York City daily.

A crash at the same station on a different train line injured more than 30 people in 2011. The PATH commuter train crashed into bumpers at the end of the tracks on a Sunday morning.

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Associated Press writers Karen Matthews and Deepti Hajela in Hoboken and Verena Dobnik in New York and NewsWorks writer Dana DiFilippo contributed to this report.

 

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