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NTSB and FRA both investigating Hoboken train crash

The New York metropolitan area is home to one of the nation's busiest rail networks, and accidents involving serious injury or death may be investigated by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration. The engineer behind the controls of the commuter train that crashed in Hoboken on Sept. 29 has spoken to NTSB representatives, and the vice chair of the federal safety agency says that his account of events will be compared to data recovered from the train's black box. The NTSB are also analyzing images of the accident scene captured by drone-mounted cameras to determine how fast the train was moving at the time of the crash.

The engineer says that the train was traveling at 10 mph when it entered Hoboken station at 8:45 a.m. He is said to have told accident investigators that he recalls checking the train's speed and blowing its horn as it entered the station. The 48-year-old man says that the next thing he remembers is regaining consciousness on the floor of his cab. The man, who has been a qualified engineer for more than 15 years, says that he was fully rested and his cellphone was switched off at the time of the accident.

Calculating the speed of the train at the moment of impact will be a crucial step for FRA and NTSB investigators. While the operating speed for the section of track approaching the train accident scene is 30 mph, investigators have determined that the curve could safely support trains traveling as fast as 43 mph. Safety experts have pointed out that the accident may have been prevented by a Positive Train Control system. Railroads were originally told by lawmakers to have the automatic braking technology installed by the end of 2015, but a three year extension was granted by Congress after railroad companies asked for more time.

Train accident victims often suffer particularly debilitating injuries because they are rarely securely restrained at the time of impact. While not all accidents can be avoided, personal injury attorneys may pursue civil remedies on behalf of those who are harmed due to the negligent behavior of railroad employees or the inadequate safety measures of railroad companies.

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