The National Transportation Safety Board investigators were finally able to access the front car of the NJ Transit train that slammed into the Hoboken terminal last week and removed the data recorders. Jim Southworth, the investigator in charge, said, "These recording units look to be in fairly good shape... Now is when we get very, very busy."
The morning commute crash, which took place at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, September 29th, killed one woman and injured over 100 others. The questionable structural integrity of the terminal following the crash, as well as asbestos, have been obstacles for investigators.
Witnesses say that the train did not slow down when it was in the station, but the engineer, Thomas Gallagher, 48, did not recall any details about the crash. Yet Gallagher reportedly said he does remember the speedometer showing the train going the required 10 mph speed limit. However, sources say the NTSB believes the train was going 20 to 30 mph in the station. The Record reports, "The estimate, provided to the Associated Press by a U.S. official briefed on the investigation, holds that the train was traveling 20 to 30 miles an hour when it barreled into the terminal. It is based on the extensive damage caused by the accident, rather than any eyewitness statements, surveillance videos or data recorders recovered from the scene, said the official."
NJ Transit has had more than 150 accidents since 2011. NJ Governor Chris Christie and the NJ State Legislature finally agreed to raise the gas tax—which would help fund the state's transportation fund (NJ Transit is a state agency)—two days after the fatal crash and one day after a NY Times editorial noted, "The neglect and mismanagement of the mass transit system by Mr. Christie and other state leaders began long before the gas-tax standoff."