Since 1995, NJ leads nation in derailments linked to human error

An analysis of federal rail data since 1995 shows the number of derailments caused by human error in New Jersey is higher than any other state.

Calling that an alarming statistic, Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman John Wisniewski said he wants to meet with Ronnie Hakim, the executive director of New Jersey Transit, to make sure commuters are getting a safe ride.

“It’s unacceptable in this day and age, especially right after what’s happened with Amtrak and that fatal crash just a week ago, that New Jersey Transit could have this kind of scorecard, Wisniewski said Monday. “We need to get to the bottom of it. We need to find a solution, and we need to do it right away.”

Martin Robins, director emeritus of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers, can’t explain why New Jersey has such a high incidence of derailments linked to errors.

“I think that New Jersey Transit is a relatively safe operator,” he said. “I don’t think that we’ve seen any great safety dangers that have arisen on New Jersey Transit. And as far as the freight operations are concerned, I don’t know where they greatly differ from that in other states.”

Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said he’s not proposing any new regulations.

“I think it’s too early to start talking about what the remedy is. We need to understand what the problem is first,” he said during a committee meeting. “Obviously the statistics suggest that New Jersey Transit is not providing as safe a ride as possible.”

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