Brakes were working in New Jersey commuter train crash: report

October 13, 2016 11:31 AM EDT

A derailed New Jersey Transit train is seen under a collapsed roof after it derailed and crashed into the station in Hoboken, New Jersey. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Thursday the brakes were working on a crowded New Jersey Transit train that crashed into the Hoboken Terminal on Sept. 29, killing one and injuring 110 people.

On the day of the accident, the train, which was six minutes late, had four cars when it normally has five cars and was so crowded the conductor said he was unable to collect fares, the NTSB said in a preliminary report on the accident.

The report did not give a reason for the crash. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters on Wednesday he was not going to discuss possible causes of the crash while it is under investigation.

Investigators have not found any mechanical issues with the signal and train control systems, the report said, adding that while the train's electrical communication network was destroyed in the crash, a friction brake test showed the brakes functioned as designed.

The NTSB previously said the train was traveling at 8 miles per hour (13 kph) 38 seconds before impact and then began to increase in speed to 21 miles per hour (34 kph) at impact -- twice the speed limit -- and that emergency brakes were applied one second before the crash.

The report said a review of the event data recorder confirmed the speed of the train. The NTSB said it has recovered good quality forward-facing color video and audio from an exterior microphone.

The engineer told the NTSB his cell phone was stored and turned off in his personal backpack and he conducted required brake tests on the train prior to departure. As the train approached the end of the platform, he blew the horn, checked his speedometer, and starting ringing the bell.

The engineer said he remembered waking up in the cab laying on the floor after the accident, but has no memory of it.

The conductor told the NTSB he did not notice anything unusual about the engineer's behavior.

The Hoboken station reopened on Monday with commuter service partially restored.

Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement "the preliminary report raises more questions than provides answers."

The crash "has made very clear that the state needs to put some serious time, attention, and resources into New Jersey Transit rail operations," he added.

New Jersey Transit, the third-busiest U.S. commuter system handling nearly 1 million bus and rail passengers a day, has had a series of budget and safety issues.

Last year, the system hiked fares by 9 percent to help close a $50 million budget deficit and had a $45 million budget gap this year.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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