A New Jersey Transit train that crashed into Hoboken’s terminal last week, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others, was going twice the speed limit at the moment of impact, and the train’s engineer hit the emergency brake less than a second before the crash, federal investigators said Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the findings were gleaned from data recorders aboard the train.
The speed limit for the station area is 10 mph.
The NTSB said the train was traveling at 8 mph and the throttle was in the idle position less than a minute before the crash. The throttle was increased approximately 38 seconds before the collision and the train speeded up, reaching a maximum of about 21 mph, the agency said.
The throttle went back to idle just prior to the collision, and the engineer hit the emergency brake less than a second before the train hit a bumping post at the end of the rail line.
Also Thursday, New Jersey Transit implemented a new rule for pulling into two of its stations.
The conductor must join the engineer whenever a train pulls into Hoboken Terminal or its Atlantic City station, NJ Transit spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson said. That means a second set of eyes will be watching as a train enters the final phase of its trip at stations where there are platforms at the end of the rails.
The New York Times first reported the policy.
The engineer was alone when the train crashed into the Hoboken station last Thursday. He has told federal investigators he had no memory of the crash.
Investigators recovered the data recorder, a video recorder and the engineer’s cellphone from the front car of the NJ Transit train on Tuesday afternoon. The equipment was sent to an agency lab in Washington for analysis, officials said.
Some rail-safety experts caution that having a second person in a cab isn’t automatically safer, since crew members can sometimes distract each other. In 1996 outside Washington, D.C., a commuter train engineer was thought to have been distracted by a conversation with a crew member, causing a crash with an Amtrak train that killed 11 people.
A final report on what caused last week’s crash could take a year or longer to complete.