• NJT HOBOKEN TERMINAL ACCIDENT THREAD

  • Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.
Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

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  by Silverliner II
 
DutchRailnut wrote:and even if a terminal could be made PTC compatible a train would stop 300 feet from bumper block (red signal) and to get closer would require a red/signal overide.
so not only stop but permission from dispatcher to hit red signal overide.
SEPTA has locations (noted in the bulletins for inclusion in the next timetable) where trains in PTC territory, after stopping at a stop signal as required by PTC, will be able to "creep" closer to the signal if needed in order to platform at a station (or clear up in a passing siding), with no dispatcher intervention or permission needed. I forget what the maximum creep speed is, but a max of 3mph does ring a bell.
DutchRailnut wrote:since entire event only took 38 seconds (2/3 of one minute), I doubt sleep apnea was a factor, I would more lean towards distraction in cab, or sun shining in his face.
it is very easy to loose situational awareness if your talking to someone or simply gather your stuff towards end of run.
How about undiagnosed narcolepsy? That can happen in an instant.
  by DutchRailnut
 
yup so can undiagnosed, railfan speculation :-)
  by Silverliner II
 
My comment was not made as a railfan, but as a fellow engineer with 20 years of no set work schedule under his belt.
  by justalurker66
 
Ken W2KB wrote:NTSB quoted it. NTSB is not at the interpretive stage as yet, it only reports certain data it has acquired including the statement. Interpretation will come eventually. Competent reporters would have investigated further to determine how many were on the train just before and after Hoboken, including if there were any that were not injured.
Please read better. There were no reporters involved. The report came from the NTSB. The NTSB stated what the conductor had told them. Your insults of reporters are irrelevant as there were none involved. Perhaps you are confusing what you read here with something seen in the media ... but I am talking solely about what the NTSB has released. And I made that clear in my post.
  by Tommy Meehan
 
I agree, I'm not sure the news media did interview the conductor or any of the train crew. I'm not sure the crew would have been made available to the media. Often they're not. For many reasons, crews are often instructed not to talk to the media, that any comments or information have to come from management, from whomever is designated to speak with the media. I'm not sure exactly how the number of passengers still on the train is relevant, but I think the only way the media might be able to get that information would be to request it from NJ Transit.

Anyway the NTSB in their preliminary report (link) did say they interviewed the crew including the conductor. Below is some of what the conductor told them:
On the day of the accident, the train consist had four cars when it normally has five cars. The cars were very crowded, with people standing in the vestibules and crowding the cars. It was so crowded the conductor was unable to collect fares. The conductor did not notice anything unusual about the speed of the train as it approached the terminal, but said that he was focused on the crowds of passengers at that time. After the accident, the conductor helped evacuate the train and walked through it to ensure all passengers had exited.
Again, I'm not too sure how this is relevant, how many people were on the train when it arrived at Hoboken, but note the conductor is quoted as saying, as the train "approached the terminal...he was focused on the crowds of passengers at that time..." As I mentioned, having ridden 1614, it usually was pretty crowded by the time it made the last stops along Rt. 17 (I think Carlstadt is the final inbound stop before Secaucus Jct.). I haven't ridden 1614 in three or four years but as I recall maybe one-third of the riders would get off at Secaucus, maybe less. There's a number of reasons for that, the primary reason being Pascack Valley Line commuters tend to be people who work in the Wall Street area and they stay on board until Hoboken and then take PATH to the World Trade Center stop. That still seems to be true of most of the diesel lines out of Hoboken headed for Bergen County. Bergen County has extensive commuter bus service into the PABT on 42nd Street and most commuters headed for Midtown Manhattan usually took the bus. That has changed since the connection with Secaucus Jct. opened but for many riders the alternative is not that attractive. It not only involves a transfer from a lower level train to an upper level train, the connecting train is often pretty crowded.

When I've found it's not true is on weekends. Then there's usually a handful of people on board when a Pascack Valley or Main Line/Bergen County train leaves Hoboken and a crowd waiting at Secaucus Jct. But comparing weekends and weekday rush hours is like two different railroads.
  by trainbrain
 
Back to a full schedule as of today. Tracks 1-4, 7, and 8 reopened. 5 and 6 are still closed.
  by Ken W2KB
 
justalurker66 wrote:
Ken W2KB wrote:NTSB quoted it. NTSB is not at the interpretive stage as yet, it only reports certain data it has acquired including the statement. Interpretation will come eventually. Competent reporters would have investigated further to determine how many were on the train just before and after Hoboken, including if there were any that were not injured.
Please read better. There were no reporters involved. The report came from the NTSB. The NTSB stated what the conductor had told them. Your insults of reporters are irrelevant as there were none involved. Perhaps you are confusing what you read here with something seen in the media ... but I am talking solely about what the NTSB has released. And I made that clear in my post.
Your comment includes a conjecture that because of the overcrowded train the engineer may have increased the throttle to compensate for the weight of the large number of passengers. My comment was directed to that suggested possibility. The NTSB statement, while in all probability an accurate quote, is potentially misleading to the uninformed lay readership of news media by what is omitted in the NTSB report. By stating that the train was so overcrowded that the Conductor could not collect tickets it is implied that the train was substantially overcrowded when it arrived at Hoboken. The reporters became involved the moment they incorporated the NTSB quote in the news articles with no further investigation. A good reporter probing to determine the relevance of the passenger crowding would have determined how many passengers were on the train upon arrival at Hoboken. Were the approximately 108 injured passengers a relative small percentage of those then on board or does that number constitute everyone on board? That is very significant and by not determining and reporting approximately how many got off the train at the prior stop, it is implied that the overcrowding condition was present at Hoboken and in some part was a causation factor in the crash or the severity of the injuries. Pertinent to your specific comment, it highly unlikely the train was indeed overcrowded at Hoboken thus needing the throttle movement. The majority of the 108 injuries based on the news reports, appear to have occurred due to passengers suddenly contacting seat backs or other interior parts of the train as the train suddenly decelerated upon striking the bumper, concourse concrete and building steel structures, with the passengers momentum carrying them forward at significant velocity. Had the train been filled with substantially over 400 passengers and hence overcrowded at Hoboken, in all probability many more than 108 would have been injured by the deceleration impact. Many, perhaps most, of the news reports of prior accidents involving trains, buses and planes have reported the total number on board at the time of the incident and the number of injured, so reporting same in this instance is not a novel approach. That number to my knowledge is missing in the news reports and a well written news report would include that number because of the implication of overcrowding to the point of inability to collect tickets somehow contributing to the crash. It would also have been newsworthy in and of itself, to know that a large percentage of passengers were not injured in the wreck, and hence assure the readership that the advantages of rail travel in regard to passenger safety as compared with other means of commuting such as automobiles is still valid.
  by Tommy Meehan
 
If the point of determining the passenger load at Hoboken is to test the 'theory' the engineer may have advanced the throttle to maintain speed (the event recorders shows speed was increased) then I see the relevance. I don't know what news article is being referred to that lacked information on the passenger load but the original report in the New York Times did include that information in the third paragraph.
Officials said they had not determined why the train, which was carrying an estimated 250 passengers, was traveling at a high speed and failed to halt on the track. Link
I note though, the Times is quoting "officials" not the train conductor. Normally crews are instructed not to speak to the media but to refer them to the media officer. In defense of the media, their story is only as accurate as the information they receive, and the information usually comes from the agency or company involved. That information is not always 100% accurate. People make mistakes.
  by justalurker66
 
Ken W2KB wrote:Your comment includes a conjecture that because of the overcrowded train the engineer may have increased the throttle to compensate for the weight of the large number of passengers.
FALSE. I never made any such suggestion. Again, learn to READ! I never mentioned the weight of the passengers. Another poster was suggestive that the engineer might have goosed the train and I stated that such a maneuver did not make any sense. (An engineer who believed he was already at the speed limit - last recollection was 10 MPH - would not want make a move that would increase speed ~800ft before a bumper.) Perhaps you are confused. Perhaps you want to be confused. But you really need to learn how to read.
justalurker66 wrote:
MCL1981 wrote:Perhaps to give a little boost to the get to the end of the platform because it was going too slow?
8 MPH isn't "too slow" ... and the engineer reported the last speed he saw was the limit, 10 MPH. Giving a packed train (so packed that the conductor could not collect all fares) a little boost when approaching a stop (800ft from the bumper?) at the speed limit would not be expected behavior.
Not my conjecture and no mention of the weight of the passengers. It should be easy enough to understand.
  by Zeke
 
I have not read all 25 pages of this thread so I don't know if this has been touched on. Back in the E-L push pull era a common practice regarding spotting a train close to the bumping block would be once the train entered the depot the throttle was advanced to position 3 and 6 pounds of air was then drawn off the automatic brake valve. The slack would compress and once the engineer got within 2 car lengths of the block he would slowly reduce the throttle one notch/ position at a time and the train would gently come to a complete stop. Hence no cycling of the automatic brake valve to control the speed and if the train was going to fast the Automatic was still in the lap position and ready for a heavy draw down to still spot up at the block. If done right as it was many many times one automatic brake application and that was it. I have never seen the E-L air brake book so I don't know if this practice,though wide spread,was sanctioned by the carrier.
  by South Jersey Budd
 
Zeke wrote:I have not read all 25 pages of this thread so I don't know if this has been touched on. Back in the E-L push pull era a common practice regarding spotting a train close to the bumping block would be once the train entered the depot the throttle was advanced to position 3 and 6 pounds of air was then drawn off the automatic brake valve. The slack would compress and once the engineer got within 2 car lengths of the block he would slowly reduce the throttle one notch/ position at a time and the train would gently come to a complete stop. Hence no cycling of the automatic brake valve to control the speed and if the train was going to fast the Automatic was still in the lap position and ready for a heavy draw down to still spot up at the block. If done right as it was many many times one automatic brake application and that was it. I have never seen the E-L air brake book so I don't know if this practice,though wide spread,was sanctioned by the carrier.
Today's passenger equipment makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to power brake from the engine or cab car.
Silverliner II wrote:
DutchRailnut wrote:and even if a terminal could be made PTC compatible a train would stop 300 feet from bumper block (red signal) and to get closer would require a red/signal overide.
so not only stop but permission from dispatcher to hit red signal overide.
SEPTA has locations (noted in the bulletins for inclusion in the next timetable) where trains in PTC territory, after stopping at a stop signal as required by PTC, will be able to "creep" closer to the signal if needed in order to platform at a station (or clear up in a passing siding), with no dispatcher intervention or permission needed. I forget what the maximum creep speed is, but a max of 3mph does ring a bell.
DutchRailnut wrote:since entire event only took 38 seconds (2/3 of one minute), I doubt sleep apnea was a factor, I would more lean towards distraction in cab, or sun shining in his face.
it is very easy to loose situational awareness if your talking to someone or simply gather your stuff towards end of run.
How about undiagnosed narcolepsy? That can happen in an instant.
SEPTA's PTC (ACES) allows trains at certain locations to come as close as 30' from a stop signal to facilitate discharging passengers. The creep is a constant reduction in allowable speed, reducing to 0mph where a positive stop will be enforced, without any prior stop.
  by alewifebp
 
For the terminal roof that collapsed, did they just prop up the roof and weld things back in place, or did they construct a new roof? I'm going to guess propping the collapsed roof up, since rebuilding would be a big job.

Regarding the new slower speed limit, this is the typical overreacting thing that always happens in these cases, but gives you no real safety improvement. In the case of this accident, the train would have just been going slightly slower, but it still would have crashed.
  by litz
 
alewifebp wrote:For the terminal roof that collapsed, did they just prop up the roof and weld things back in place, or did they construct a new roof? I'm going to guess propping the collapsed roof up, since rebuilding would be a big job..
Probably a combination depending on damage ... judging by this photo, there's a significant section that now sees daylight ...

Image
  by Tommy Meehan
 
Another thought I had was, it sounds like the train involved was crowded because it was short one car, not because there were an unusual number of passengers on board. In that sense the train weight would have been lighter than usual by one car. I'm also not sure how reliable NJ Transit's estimates on the passenger load are. I'm not sure they normally get a headcount from crews of each train. Complicating it is that many of the passengers, especially on a peak train like 1614, are riding with monthly tickets and no fare or ticket is collected. It may be someone at Transit came up with a guesstimate on the train load. Figuring 100 riders per car (four cars) and 40% got off at Secaucus leaving 250 riders on the train.

I was also interested in the idea the engineer might've accelerated a bit as he came into the platform. I doubt that normally happens, but who knows. It reminded me of an incident I read about many years ago involving a Reading MU commuter train. Since several Philadelphia area posters are participating in the thread I thought I'd bring it up. This was back in the 1950s or 1960s during a transit strike and the train, en route from Wayne Jct to Reading Terminal, was beyond packed. At some point, I think around 16th St Jct., the train failed to make a normal stop and hit the train ahead. The engineer said the brakes were not as responsive as normal. I think that incident was a result of overcrowding. MU cars (like subway cars) have self adjusting brakes. Sensors read the load on the car's springs, and increase the braking force. The reason for this is, so trains slow down or stop in the same distance whether they're empty or packed. If the engineer had to keep tabs on how many people were boarding, and calculating where and when to brake, it would make their job very difficult. However in the Reading train's case, the train was so grossly overloaded it exceeded the capacity of the brakes to adjust.

This issue of self-adjusting brakes was discussed by a NY City Transit official at a railfan meeting I attended a few years ago. I was surprised that most of the fans present had no idea this technology existed.
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