NJ Tran­sit of­fi­cials to face law­mak­ers over crash, safety

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS -

TREN­TON, N.J.>> Law­mak­ers in­ves­ti­gat­ing Septem­ber’s deadly New Jersey Tran­sit train crash could fi­nally get a chance to ques­tion the top agency of­fi­cials who skipped out on an over­sight hear­ing last month.

NJ Tran­sit says new ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Steve San­toro and other key lead­ers will tes­tify be­fore the leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee on Fri­day. They likely will face ques­tion­ing about NJ Tran­sit’s poor safety record and high break­down rate.

Law­mak­ers also want information on the agency’s fi­nances, how it is re­spond­ing to vic­tims of the Sept. 29 crash and the sta­tus of a project to in­stall so­phis­ti­cated train con­trol tech­nol­ogy that could have pre­vented the wreck.

One woman died and more than 100 peo­ple were in­jured when a packed NJ Tran­sit train go­ing twice the 10 mph speed limit slammed into a bump­ing post at Hobo­ken Ter­mi­nal.

Leg­is­la­tors said NJ Tran­sit of­fi­cials gave short no­tice that they would be miss­ing the ear­lier hear­ing to meet with fed­eral reg­u­la­tors and threat­ened to is­sue sub­poe­nas if they did not agree to tes­tify on Fri­day.

An As­so­ci­ated Press anal­y­sis of fed­eral safety data from Jan­uary 2011 through July 2016 found that NJ Tran­sit trains have been in­volved in 157 ac­ci­dents since the start of 2011, three times as many as the largest com­muter rail­road, the Long Is­land Rail Road.

Ac­cord­ing to fed­eral data, NJ Tran­sit trains break down about ev­ery 85,000 miles, com­pared with more than 200,000 miles for the LIRR and the Metro-North Rail­road.

NJ Tran­sit board chair­man Richard Ham­mer told the over­sight com­mit­tee last month that NJ Tran­sit would meet a De­cem­ber 2018 in­stal­la­tion dead­line, with test­ing sched­uled for next year on a 6-mile stretch of the Mor­ris and Es­sex Line.

He said NJ Tran­sit would look into whether the tech­nol­ogy should be in­stalled at Hobo­ken Ter­mi­nal.

Fed­eral reg­u­la­tors had given the agency an ex­cep­tion for the sta­tion.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS O’NEILL— NTSB VIA THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Th­ese photos pro­vided by the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board show dam­age done to the Hobo­ken Ter­mi­nal in Hobo­ken, N.J.

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