At least one person is dead and more than 100 others injured after a packed New Jersey Transit commuter train entered Hoboken Terminal at a high rate of speed for unknown reasons Thursday morning during rush hour and crashed inside the station.
The train was traveling NJ Transit’s Pascack Valley Line, which runs between Hoboken and Spring Valley, N.Y., passing through Hudson and Bergen Counties in New Jersey and Rockland County in New York. The train had departed from Spring Valley at 7:23 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Hoboken at 8:38.
One witness who was on the train when it crashed told ABC News that it had just left the Secaucus, N.J., station, where several of the commuters got off to transfer to NYC’s Penn Station. The train then continued to Hoboken, traveling a little faster than usual but otherwise giving no indication that something was seriously wrong until it entered the Hoboken terminal without slowing.
A NJ Transit worker who witnessed the train crash from the platform told ABC News that the train went airborne after jumping the bumper block and traveled for about another 40 feet before crashing into the wall of the waiting room. The witness said that half of the first train car was completely destroyed.
The impact caused serious structural damage to the station, causing about a quarter of its roof to collapse.
Some witnesses in the station at the time who did not see the crash but heard it said they thought a bomb had gone off.
“It sounded like a bomb,” a freight engineer told ABC News. “And I’m sure that’s probably what people were thinking because this is what it sounded like.” Another witness described the sound as a “horrendous, horrendous exploding noise.”
Authorities have not released the identity of the person killed in the crash. CBS News reported that of the 108 people injured, 74 were hospitalized. Some of the injured are reportedly in serious and critical condition.
“None of NJ Transit’s trains are fully equipped with positive train control, a safety system designed to prevent accidents by automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast,” CBS News reported. “The industry is under government orders to install PTC, but the deadline has been repeatedly extended by regulators at the request of the railroads. The deadline is now the end of 2018.”
The Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are gathering information about the crash and both agencies have sent investigators to the scene.
Former NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker told CBS News that “absolutely everything” that may have contributed to the crash will be considered.