Official: Investigators estimate train in crash was speeding


HOBOKEN, N.J. – Federal investigators estimate a commuter train was travelling two to three times the 10 mph speed limit when it slammed into a New Jersey rail terminal last week, a U.S. official told The Associated Press Tuesday.

The official, who was briefed on the investigation, said investigators estimated the train was moving between 20 and 30 mph when it crashed into Hoboken Terminal last Thursday. The estimate is based on the extent of damage, not on data from the train’s instruments.

The official was not authorized to speak about an ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

One woman standing on a platform was killed by debris as the train smashed through a concrete-and-steel bumper and knocked out pillars, causing a section of the station’s outdoor roof to collapse.

More than 100 people were injured.

The train’s engineer, Thomas Gallagher, told investigators that he had no memory of the crash but said he was operating at 10 mph as he approached the station, said T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, the vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Gallagher, 48, said he only remembered waking up on the floor of the engineer’s cab, Dinh-Zarr said Sunday during the most recent public briefing on the investigation.

The NTSB is expected to provide an update on its inquiry late Tuesday afternoon.

The speed estimate comes as investigators work to extract the second of the train’s two data recorders. Access to the device, in the front of the train, and video from the train’s forward-facing camera has been hampered by the debris.

A second data recorder, which was in the locomotive at the rear of the train, wasn’t functioning on the day of the crash and didn’t record speed, braking or other information about the trip, the NTSB said.

Dinh-Zarr said NTSB investigators also obtained surveillance video and video from forward-facing cameras on nearby trains.

“We will be able to look at the video to help us if for some reason there is not speed recorded, or if we are not able to get speed from other sources,” Dinh-Zarr said. “There are ways to use landmarks along the way.”

Federal regulations require commuter trains to have working recorders. The regulations require they be inspected every 92 days. It was unclear when the nonworking recorder, which officials said was installed in 1995, had been last inspected.

The commuter rail service has not responded to requests for comments.


Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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