At least three people died and up to 100 were hurt, some of them critically, when an NJ Transit train crashed into the station in Hoboken at the height of Thursday’s morning rush, leaving twisted piles of metal and bricks and causing part of the highly trafficked terminal to collapse, officials said.
Preliminary reports suggest the crash involving train No. 1614 on the Pascack Valley Line was accidental or caused by operator error, according to four law enforcement officials, though they stress it is early in the investigation.
Pictures on social media showed serious damage to the train and extensive structural damage to the station. At least one of the NJ Transit cars appeared to be partially inside the building, with some of the supporting beams that hold up the canopy where the trains come in caved in around it.
It appeared the train went through a bumper stop at the end of the track. It came to a stop in a covered area between the station’s indoor waiting area and the platform. From above, chopper footage showed the glass arches atop the building crunched like an accordion over the platform.
Several people who were on the train tweeted they felt “lucky to be alive.”
Passenger Bhagyesh Shah said he boarded the train at Secaucus. He said he normally stands near the window, but stood in the back of the train Thursday.
“The next thing I know, we are plowing through the platform,” Shah said. “It was for a couple seconds, but it felt like an eternity.”
He said the train was crowded, particularly the first two cars, because they make for an easy exit into the Hoboken station and onto the PATH train. Passengers in the second car broke the emergency windows to get out.
“I saw a woman pinned under concrete,” Shah said. “A lot of people were bleeding; one guy was crying.”
Nearby Jersey City Medical Center said it had sent several trauma and emergency units to the scene, which was swarming with and first responders within minutes of the crash. Another hospital said it had received four patients and was expecting additional victims.
Hoboken, which is New Jersey Transit’s fifth-busiest stations with 15,000 boardings per weekday, is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City.
All PATH service at the Hoboken station is suspended. NJ Transit said service in and out of the station was also shut down. Ferry service was suspended.
The Federal Railroad Administration says it has investigators en route to the scene. The National Transportation Safety Board is also responding.