All eyes on engineer in Hoboken train crash

HOBOKEN -- Federal investigators are on the scene at the train crash in Hoboken, New Jersey. Investigators will work to recover video from the two outward facing cameras and the train’s data recorders. The NTSB is leading the investigation. 

“We will look at whether there was positive train control installed and all of the aspects related to that before we come to any conclusions,” said NTSB vice chair Bella Dinh-Zarr.   

New Jersey Transit said the engineer, 48-year-old Thomas Gallagher, was in the front of the first car as it came speeding into the Hoboken station. 

The NTSB will reconstruct Gallagher’s last 72-hours, including a look at the operator’s medical history.

Railroads are under a federal mandate to install positive train control, or PTC, technology that can automatically slow or stop a speeding train to prevent collisions. Congress pushed the deadline for installation to at least 2018. 

Federal health screening requirements for train operators are among the lightest -- requiring only a hearing and vision check every three years. The rest is up to the railroad.  

The NTSB has called for stronger standards.

Federal regulators said New Jersey Transit is yet to submit a plan to install the expensive safety technology. 

“PTC would have stopped this train because moving to fast through station,” said Mark Rosenker who chaired the NTSB when the PTC requirement was enacted. 

These trains are equipped with an alerter -- sometimes called a dead man’s switch -- that requires the operator to acknowledge an alarm at a regular interval or it will stop the train. New Jersey Transit won’t say if that device was active