The NJ Transit commuter train that crashed into the Hoboken Terminal was going twice the speed limit at the moment of impact, the National Transportation Safety Board said, NBC News reports. New details about the Sept. 29 crash that killed one person and injured hundreds more were released in an agency update Thursday.
The NTSB said that data collected from the train’s black box shows that it was traveling at 8 mph and sped up for 30 seconds before hitting 21 mph. The speed limit for the station area is 10 mph.
According to NBC, 38 seconds before impact, the train’s throttle was moved from idle to a position that caused the train to pick up speed, and the train continued to accelerate until just prior to the collision, when the throttle was returned to idle again and the engineer hit the emergency brake.
Forward-facing video captured the front of the train colliding with and overriding the bumping post at the end of the track platform. CBS New York reports that the video caught a large flash as the car collided with the panel just beyond the bumping post.
The engineer, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher, was alone in the front car when the crash happened. He told investigators that he could not remember the crash but believes that he was going 10 mph when he entered the station. He also said that he had adequate rest before operating the train.
On Tuesday the NTSB recovered the data recorder, the video recorder and Gallagher’s cellphone from the front car of the train and sent the equipment to an agency lab in Washington, D.C., for analysis. A second event recorder retrieved from the rear of the train wasn’t functioning the day of the crash.
A final report on what caused the crash could take a year or longer to complete.
According to CBS New York, the NTSB said in a statement:
No analysis is provided in the facts released from the event and video recorder data extractions. The NTSB has not determined probable cause and cautions against drawing conclusions from these facts alone. Analysis of the findings from these recorders and from other facts gathered during our comprehensive investigation will take place after the factual record is complete.
In the meantime, NJ Transit implemented a new rule on Thursday requiring that the conductor join the engineer whenever a train is preparing to enter either Hoboken Terminal or Atlantic City station. This ensures that a second set of eyes will be watching as trains enter stations where there are platforms at the end of the rails.