After crash, NJ Transit says two crew members must be in front car of trains pulling into Hoboken
Under investigation on multiple fronts for its train safety practices after a fatal crash at Hoboken Terminal last week, NJ Transit has issued new instructions to its rail employees requiring that two members of the train crew must be in the front car of every train pulling into Hoboken, an agency spokesperson confirmed Wednesday night.
The train’s conductor must join the engineer at the front of the train “to focus exclusively on the railroad, calling signal, checking the route and ensuring that the train is operated safely in compliance with all rules and restrictions,” according to the order, obtained by The Record.
The new rule takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Typically engineers focus on driving the train, while conductors focus on passengers: Taking tickets, opening and closing passenger doors, and making sure the passenger cars are safe. Under the new order, however, one of the conductors must leave the passenger cars at the last stop before Hoboken, which may be Newark Penn Station, Newark Broad Street, Secaucus Junction or NJ Transit’s Meadowlands Maintenance Complex, in Kearny, depending on the line.
The rule applies whether the lead car of the train is a locomotive or a passenger car, as was the case on Train 1416, which slammed into Hoboken Terminal last Thursday, killing one person and injuring more than 100.
It was unclear Wednesday whether the order is a response to preliminary findings from the investigation into the crash, which is being led by the National Transportation Safety Board. A federal official who was briefed on the investigation said it appeared the train was traveling 20 to 30 miles an hour – two to three times the posted speed limit – when it hit the terminal.
Jim Southworth, the safety board’s investigator in charge of the inquiry, said his team would continue examining the site for clues for the next several days, and any preliminary findings as to what caused the accident will come after that.
Officials at NJ Transit do not know yet when Hoboken Terminal will reopen to NJ Transit trains, or when trains will return to a regular schedule, said Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman. In the meantime, trains that normally terminate in Hoboken are running on a weekend schedule. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org