After a commuter train crashed into the train station in Hoboken on Thursday morning, leaving more than a hundred people injured, at least three dead, and the station closed indefinitely, many commuters are poses the question: are Metro North trains safe?! The accident occurred around 8:45a.m., when the No. 1614 train on the Pascack Valley Line from Spring Valley suddenly crashed into Hoboken station. Passengers and bystanders began immediately posting pictures of the wreckage on social media, detailing the large piles of rubble, partially collapsed ceiling, and the injured passengers making their way making their way out of the debris.
While updates from the Federal Railroad Association have yet to confirm the exact cause of the crash, a report from Fox News revealed that, according to passengers, the train never slowed down as it barreled into Hoboken, which brings up safety concerns about the train system itself.
According to NBC News, the New Jersey transit system has been assigned the task of installing Positive Train Control technology in all their trains, which prevents trains from exceeding track speed limits. However, the train that crashed didn't have PTC installed, according to updates from The Atlantic. Not only that, but as of now New Jersey Transit employees remain untrained in the workings of PTC. This naturally raises some concerns about the safety of Metro North trains, and the NJT in general.
The PTC technology is designed to automatically slow trains when they've surpassed the speed limit on the track, and was originally slated to be installed on all NJT trains by December 2015. Unfortunately, the NJT was given a three year extension on that deadline, pushing it to Dec. 31, 2018, according to a progress report from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The report said that NJT has done "partial testing over the course of the past year," on several trains, while the technology remains uninstalled.
Currently the Hoboken train station, which normally serves roughly 50,000 commuters daily is closed for service, including incoming light rail trains. The NJ transit released an official statement about its current train service at approximately 10:42 a.m., which said:
At approximately 8:45 a.m. train #1614, a Pascack Valley line departure from Spring Valley operating to Hoboken, struck the Hoboken Terminal building on track 5. Initial reports indicate multiple critical injuries. Rail service in/out of Hoboken is suspended due to the incident. HBLR and PATH are also suspended into and out of Hoboken Terminal. NJ TRANSIT bus, private carriers and ferry services are cross-honoring NJT rail tickets and passes.
The hope is that commuters will stay safe while NJ Transit figures out effective problem-solving.