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NJ TRANSIT IDENTIFIES PRELIMINARY CAUSE OF DERAILMENT

February 21, 2007
NJT-07-014
Contact: Penny Bassett Hackett or Dan Stessel 973 491-7078

NEWARK, NJ – NJ TRANSIT has reached a preliminary conclusion in its investigation into this morning’s derailment of Train 1252. Human error led to a track defect that is believed to have caused the derailment, officials said.

Ten days ago, a worn switch was replaced at Ridgewood Junction and a portion of the switch was improperly installed, resulting in a condition known as "tight gauge," where the rails are too narrow over several feet of track through the switch point. NJ TRANSIT’s standard procedures require a thorough inspection of any such work by a qualified employee before returning the track to service, as well as an inspection of all switches every 30 days.

NJ TRANSIT has taken two immediate actions: First, three employees—one track supervisor and two track foremen—have been suspended from service pending an administrative hearing process. Second, in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration, NJ TRANSIT will inspect four switches within 24 hours as a precautionary measure. The switches are of a similar type and have been installed in the last year.

The investigation also shows that Train 1252 was traveling 36 mph when it crossed over the switch from the Main Line to the Bergen County Line east of Ridgewood Station shortly before 7:30 this morning. None of the approximately 100 customers or crewmembers aboard was injured, and customers were accommodated on another NJ TRANSIT train shortly thereafter.

Train 1252 is currently being re-railed and track repairs are underway in an effort to restore full service in time for the evening commute.