A jam-packed Long Island Railroad (LIRR) commuter train crashed as it arrived at the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. According to officials, the LIRR train was arriving at the terminal at 8:20 a.m. when it overshot the platform and slammed into the metal bumper block, severely damaging the front two cars, sending passengers flying, and leaving the platform smoke-filled. It is estimated that over 400 passengers were on the train at the time of the crash. More than 100 were injured and several had to be taken out on stretchers. The train was going approximately 10 or 15 mph. The speed limit in the station is 5 mph, a source said.
The LIRR carries about 300,000 passengers each day during the week, making it the busiest commuter railroad in the country.
The crash is under investigation, but authorities said that human error was likely to blame. They quickly drew comparisons to the fatal crash in September when a New Jersey Transit train crashed into a platform in Hoboken during this morning’s rush-hour commute. The Hoboken train was found to be traveling too fast when it came into the station. Reports say the driver apparently suffered from a sleep disorder.
While minor by comparison, the recent incident raises the questions, “Why didn’t the operator stop the train?” and “Would the crash have been prevented if the LIRR train had been equipped with the Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system?”
The PTC system will automatically apply the brakes on trains that are about to collide or enter the wrong track. Like the Hoboken train, the LIRR train was not equipped with this state-of-the-art technology, but it’s too early to tell whether it would have prevented the crash.
The U.S. railroads have been under government orders to install the PTC system, but the work has gone more slowly than expected. The deadline has been repeatedly extended and is now Dec. 31, 2018. Last year, the LIRR alone saw four derailments, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. In 2015, there were nine LIRR derailments, and there were three derailments in 2013 and 2014.
It is time to take the necessary steps to prevent these serious and fatal train crashes. Safety must be top priority. No more delays; the time is now!
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.