Discussion relating to the past and present operations of the NYC Subway, PATH, and Staten Island Railway (SIRT).

Moderator: GirlOnTheTrain

  by Tommy Meehan
I read the report a while back and I enjoyed it. You usually learn a lot of operating details in the NTSB reports, things that they cover that are not specifically related to the event they are investigating.

One thing I read in this report which I thought was pretty cool. PATH crews call the trip from Journal Square-Hoboken-33rd Street "around-the-world." As example they will say that on their next trip "we're going around the world." Having made that trip as a passenger many times (TOO many times!) I agree. Great description.

There were several other things like that I found in the report. I read it when it when it first came out so I don't recall what they were off hand. Very interesting report and well-worth taking the time to read it.

The NTSB did however make a finding that the probable cause was the failure of the engineer to control train speed as she entered Hoboken station.
  by Tadman
I can tell you (without even being there) that there was nothing mechanical about that failure.
Looks like someone was at least partially correct. Not everybody on the forum automatically falls into the foamer category if they don't carry a railroad employee ID. It's worth remembering that we have some members that are intelligent professionals that enjoy the hobby but don't got around boring people with stories about how they corrected Doyle McCormick on the rivet count of 4449's tender...
  by Tommy Meehan
I can tell you (without even being there) that there was nothing mechanical about that failure.
Sounds like the old western movies where somebody tells the sheriff, "We don't need no jury, we just need a rope."


Although the station surveillance cameras did record the fact the train braked only two seconds before impact. When the brakes are applied lights on the cars are illuminated. That's how they knew. The engineer said the wheels slid but the braking distance was considered inadequate even at the low speed the train was moving at.
  by 25Hz
I wonder if engineer got mesmerized by the tunnel? Has happened elsewhere.
  by Tommy Meehan
Did you follow the link to the NTSB report? Might seem like a lot of effort but you would find that couldn't have been what happened. Why?

Approaching the platforms at Hoboken there is a signal at the interlocking which goes red as a train approaches. It has a timing device that enforces the speed limit. (The engineer testified the speed limit is 8 mph.) Unless the engineer slows to 8 mph he or she would have to stop for this signal. If he or she passes the signal while its red the signal has a tripper arm that will engage a valve on the head car's undercarriage and dump the air brakes into emergency. Next is a signal at the end of the platform, the outbound end. Same deal when a train approaches, it is red with a timing device. The train has to be slowed to 8 mph or it will trip the air brakes. Then there is a third signal located at the platform's mid-point. Same deal, it has a tripper.

The engineer successfully entered the station, slowing and then accelerating slightly at each signal. She was obviously alert and operating the train normally.

From station surveillance cameras the NTSB determined the engineer accelerated to about 14 mph passing the mid-platform signal. Then she braked but the distance remaining was too short.

(I don't understand -- and never have -- the reason for the signals at mid-platform.)

Below is a photo of the front end of the head car after the collision. It's a government agency photo so it can't be copyrighted but they usually ask that you credit the agency. It's an NTSB photo.

Apparently she either slightly overestimated the speed at which she could safely approach the platform's end (able to stop) or was momentarily distracted. Look at the photo. Not really much damage -- she almost stopped in time -- but when it's a train carrying passengers even the slightest mishap is a major event. :(