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The engineer at the controls of a packed New Jersey Transit commuter train accelerated from 8 mph to 21 mph — twice the speed limit — in the half-minute before it crashed into the Hoboken station last week, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
The new details were included in the agency's Thursday update on the early morning collision at Hoboken Terminal on Sept. 29 in which one woman on the platform was killed and dozens of riders were hurt.
Citing data collected from the train's black box, the NTSB said that as the train approached the station on Track 5, it let out one blast of its horn. The trains' bell began sounding shortly afterward — investigators did not say what the significance of those signals was.
A few moments later — 38 seconds before impact — the train's throttle was moved from idle to a position that caused it to pick up speed. It continued accelerating until just prior to the collision, when the throttle was returned to the idle position and the engineer hit the emergency brake, the NTSB said.
The train hit a bumping post at 21 mph. A forward-facing video shows the lead car hitting and jumping over the post, coinciding with a large flash.
Train operator Thomas Gallagher, 48, told investigators that he could not remember the wreck, but said he believed he was going the 10 mph speed limit, officials have said. Gallagher also said he had adequate rest before operating the locomotive.
On Thursday, crews began removing the train from the station, a process that was expected to take several hours.