HOBOKEN, NJ – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the NJ Transit commuter train that crashed into the Hoboken terminal, killing a person on the platform and injuring another 108, “came in too fast.”
The commuter train on the Pascak Valley Line from Spring Valley, New York, entered the Hoboken Terminal at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, crashing through a concrete stop, sending at least one of the front cars airborne into the Track 5 platform and stopping just at the wall going into the terminal, Christie said during a 2 p.m. press conference at the terminal with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The crash caused part of the roof of the terminal to collapse and brought down a number of electrical wires.
The debris killed Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, 34, of Hoboken, who was standing on the platform, the other injuries took place on the train, Christie said.
“What we do know is that this train came into the station at a high rate of speed,” Christie said. “Crashing through all the barriers and bringing it to the interior wall of the terminal.”
Christie commended the first responders, NJ Transit employees and commuters that, he said, rushed into the crash site to evacuate people from the train.
He said that the engineer for the train was alive and taken to the hospital where he was cooperating with law enforcement to discover the cause of the crash.
While he said the train was coming into the station too fast, he urged people to wait for the results of an investigation before jumping to conclusions.
“Let the facts lead you to the proper conclusions,” he said. “We’re not going to speculate on the cause.”
Christie said that the White House reached out to him earlier in the day to offer federal services, including dispatching an investigative unit from the National Transportation Safety Board to the scene.
In an earlier news conference from Virginia, NTSB Vice Chairman Bella Din-Zarr said she, and other investigators from that agency, were on the way to the scene to investigate the crash.
“We expect to arrive in Hoboken later today,” she said. “We are just launching our go team, so we will have more information after we arrive on scene and begin our investigation.”
She said the agency would look to see if a Positive Train Control, a system that could remotely stop a train should something happen to the engineer, would have made a difference in this incident.
Both Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo, however, said that it is too early in the investigation to say if any kind of system or device could have prevented the crash.
New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Chairman Rick Hammer said that while the NJ Transit section of the terminal would be closed until inspections determine the building is safe, PATH service and terminal would remain open and be able to handle normal evening rush hour volumes on Thursday.
He could not say when the NJ Transit terminal could reopen.
“The PATH train service will be resumed this afternoon and we expect to handle a full rush hour service,” Hammer said. “Safety inspections have determined that there is no reason we can’t run that service to full rush our peak capacity.
He said that NJ Transit would expand bus, train and light rail service on the other lines to handle the overflow of commuters.
Shuttle buses between Hoboken and Secaucus will also be running, he said.
All other NJ Transit rail services are operating normally, he said.