EXCLUSIVE: Brake issues discovered aboard NJ Transit train prior to crash in Hoboken

Hoboken, N.J. — The NJ Transit train that barreled into a Hoboken Terminal, killing one woman and injuring over 100 others in September, was found to have brake defects in the months leading up to the crash.

Inspectors noted in January that one of the No. 1614 train car’s “hand brake gear pin” was “completely out.” It was repaired.

In April, an inspector found 14 defects aboard the locomotive, including brake damage.

One month later, another hand brake pin was found to be coming out.

It was also repaired.

“I hope they inspect all the trains. It’s not something I ever concern myself with, something about brakes, when getting on the train, but that is eye opening,” said commuter Rob Schepis.

A spokeswoman for NJ Transit dismissed the brake defects listed in these reports as "routine maintenance."

“They are in no way an indication of what the actual conditions of the train were on the morning of Sept. 29,” she stated, pointing to the ongoing NTSB investigation.

NJ Transit is required to inspect all of its train equipment regularly, and employees are directed to do daily brake inspections. NJ Transit declined to release inspection reports from the month of the accident, citing the ongoing NTSB investigation.

The NTSB’s preliminary investigation found the train to be traveling at twice the speed limit. The engineer who was in the front cab stated he had not recollection of what happened, but the emergency brakes were pulled at literally the last second.

The NTSB stated that the train’s braking system was damaged in the crash, but they made repairs and conducted post-accident testing. The system responded normally.

Before this accident, NJ Transit was already under federal investigation for safety issues. NTSB investigators have not yet released a final determination for the cause of the Hoboken crash.