Inspectors from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently reported over 800 safety hazards and violations on New Jersey Transit commuter trains. The inspections follow an in-depth audit in 2016 that was prompted by years of unsatisfactory inspections. The recent assessment found multiple instances of defective brake parts, fire hazards, missing or broken black box event recorders, electrical violations, and suspension problems. Federal inspectors also found numerous locomotives and train cars in operation despite overdue inspections. That’s bad news for the more than 300,000 commuters that depend on these trains to get them to and from work each day.
Regular inspections are required by the FRA, but the railway is responsible for its own routine inspections and repairs. A spokesperson for New Jersey Transit said that short-staffing and monetary constraints make routine inspections and maintenance difficult.
NJ Governor Calls Transit System a National Disgrace
New Jersey Transit is second in the nation for the number of train breakdowns reported each year. The state’s newly elected governor, Phil Murphy, blames much of the problem on the state’s previous leaders. Under the two-term leadership of Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey Transit’s state subsidy suffered a 90 percent cut, leaving just slightly more than $3 million dollars of its capital budget to handle the system’s daily expenses. Murphy says the transit system has become “a national disgrace” that he intends to fix.
Most of the train cars and locomotives in the NJ transit system are suffering the effects of age. The majority of trains have engines that are over 50 years old and passenger cars that were built over 40 years ago when safety standards were far different than today. The recent inspections found over 140 safety hazards on the commuter train car floors and passageways. A bathroom door on one passenger car was being held up with duct tape.
Safety issues within the system became headline news in September 2016 when one of its commuter trains crashed into the Hoboken Terminal at the peak of the morning rush hour. One woman waiting on the platform was fatally injured in the train accident and another 100 train passengers were injured in the crash. Investigators found that the conductor’s sleep apnea was responsible for the crash. The train’s black box event recorder was non-functional at the time, so the investigation was limited to forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony.
Federal inspectors have reported that NJ Transit has addressed many of the violations cited in the 2016 audit. Repairs to worn tracks, faulty switches, personal protective equipment, warning bells, and brakes have been satisfactorily completed.
New Jersey Train Accident Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP Represent Victims Injured in Train Accidents and DerailmentsA train accident is always a serious event that often injures or kills hundreds of people. If you or someone you know has been injured in a train accident, you may be entitled to compensation. The New Jersey train accident lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP are committed to helping clients claim the maximum amount of compensation available. Call us at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Edison, Red Bank, and Toms River, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout the state.