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Fatal train crash at New Jersey station

AAP logoAAP 29/09/2016 David Porter

A crowded rush-hour commuter train has crashed through a barrier at the busy Hoboken station in New Jersey and into the waiting area, killing at least one person and injuring more than 100 others in a tangle of broken concrete, twisted metal and dangling cables.

People pulled concrete off bleeding victims and passengers kicked out windows and crawled out amid crying and screaming after the arriving New Jersey Transit train ran off the end of its track on Thursday morning.

It apparently knocked out pillars as it ground to a halt in a covered waiting area, collapsing a section of the roof onto the first car.

Ross Bauer, an IT specialist who was heading to his Manhattan job from his home in Hackensack, was sitting in the third or fourth car when the train was pulling into the historic 109-year-old station for its final stop.

"All of a sudden, there was an abrupt stop and a big jolt that threw people out of their seats. The lights went out, and we heard a loud crashing noise - like an explosion - that turned out to be the roof of the terminal,'' he said.

"I heard panicked screams, and everyone was stunned.''

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said one person was killed.

Of the more than 100 others injured, 74 of them were hospitalised, according to NJ Transit and area hospitals.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the scene.

They will want to know what the operator was doing before the crash and whether the person was distracted, said Bob Chipkevich, who formerly headed the NTSB train crash investigations section.

William Blaine, an engineer for a company that runs freight trains, was inside the station when the train crashed and ran over to help.

He walked over to the heavily damaged first car with a transit employee to check on the train's engineer and said he found him slumped over the controls.

The engineer's condition wasn't immediately clear.

The Hoboken Terminal, which handles more than 50,000 train and bus riders daily, is just across the Hudson River from New York City.

It is the final stop for several train lines and a transfer point for many commuters on their way to New York City.

Many passengers get off at Hoboken and take ferries or a PATH commuter train to New York.

None of NJ Transit's trains are fully equipped with positive train control, a safety system designed to prevent accidents by automatically slowing or stopping trains that are going too fast.

The industry is under government orders to install PTC, but the deadline has been repeatedly extended by regulators at the request of the railways. The deadline is now the end of 2018.

Jennifer Nelson, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said she didn't know how fast the train was going when it crashed through the bumper.

Rail service was suspended in and out of Hoboken.

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