NTSB Issues RIR-24-04; October 2022 PATCO Train Accident

Written by Jennifer McLawhorn, Managing Editor
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Courtesy of NTSB

CAMDEN, N.J. – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published a Railroad Investigation Report concerning a Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) train.

On October 14, 2022, a PATCO train struck and killed two subcontractor employees from JPC Group, Inc. The train was heading west at 33 mph, carrying 68 passengers with 8 passengers in the lead car. According to the report, Main Track 2 was scheduled to be out of service beginning at 9:30 p.m. so that crews could “put new caulking on columns on a bridge near the track’s third rail.” Two employees entered a close-clearance area. Once PATCO train Westbound #1 entered the track and the operator identified the two subcontractors on the track, the operator initiated emergency braking. The report states “the train’s head end stopped about 100 feet (1.5 railcar lengths) west of where the two subcontractor employees were struck.”

Courtesy of NTSB

Earlier that evening, the JPC Group employees met for a meeting and job briefing around 8:30 p.m. The NTSB conducted interviews with those who had attended. Investigators found that the briefing included information about work tasks and some safety points, but it “did not include ROW information, despite it being required as part of PATCO’s ROW Safety Plan.”

The report’s analysis shows that the investigation could not determine why the subcontractor employees fouled Main Track 2. The postaccident toxicology test showed fentanyl in the systems of both workers, but the NTSB says it could not determine if the amounts were enough to cause impairment.

Additionally, the NTSB says that PATCO’s noncompliance with its Row Safety Plan “shows organizational complacency.” If PATCO and NJDOT Office of System Safety Oversight (SSO) had conducted safety observations, it “could have brought attention to the fact that PATCO was not following their ROW Safety Plan.” Following the accident, PATCO has held safety stand down meetings and discussed the responsibilities of the employee-in-charge (EIC) in October 2023. The RIR can be read in its entirety below:

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