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FOR THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY FOR THE YEAR 1916
TRENTON, N. J.
IN THE MATTER OP THE ACCIDENT AT THE KINGSLAND STATION OF THE DELAWARE, LACKAWANNA AND WESTERN RAILROAD.
James Maybury, for the Commission. John L. Seager, for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Company.
On November 28th, 1916, as special passenger train No. 582, eastbound on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad had about stopped at Kingsland Station, passenger train No. 479, westbound, approached the station at such speed as to prevent the engineer from stopping in time to avoid running into some passengers, waiting to board the eastbound train, standing between the rails of the westbound track and on the platform between the east and westbound tracks.
The special train was for the exclusive use of several hundred employees of the Canadian Car Company between Kingsland and Hoboken and is not scheduled to leave Kingsland at any definite time. It usually left Kingsland Station at 6:30 P. M. and on the day of the accident the train was pulling into the Kingsland Station at that hour.
Train No. 479 is due to leave Hoboken at 5:45 P. M., and is scheduled to leave Kingsland at 6:18 P. M., and as the accident occurred at 6:30 P. M. it was twelve minutes late arriving at Kingsland.
Kingsland Station is located on the eastbound side about 800 feet east of Ridge Road, at which point there is a highway bridge over the tracks. The station platform is 460 feet long. Its east end is 660 feet west of the Kingsland Tunnel, and between the Kingsland Tunnel and Ridge Road the track curvature is 2 degrees. There is a platform between the eastbound track and westbound track the crown of which is raised above the top of the rail. As there is no intertrack fence between the main tracks, passengers for the eastbound trains could board either from the station or the westbound platform.
It seems that it was the practice of the majority of the employees of the Car Company using the special train in approaching the station to cross to the southerly side of the tracks by the highway over the tunnel, known as Valley Brook Avenue. The others were accustomed to take Pennsylvania Avenue, which runs north of the tracks and is cut off by the railroad at a point opposite the station. The latter route makes it necessary, to cross both main tracks to reach the station building.
As train No. 479 approached Kingsland the engineer, being on the right-hand side, was on the outer side of the curve and unable to see the platform between the tracks or the special train at the depot, until he emerged from the west end of the tunnel. No signal indication is provided to warn engineers approaching Kingsland on the westbound track that an eastbound train is approaching or standing at the station.
The rule of the company covering the nonparalleling of trains while a train is standing at the station is the only definite guide for the observance of caution by engineers approaching Kingsland on the westbound track. For eastbound movements the westbound trains operate an automatic signal located about 1,200 feet west of the Kingsland Station platform, giving notice that a westbound train is within the Kingsland station zone, which signal affords opportunity to stop in time to avoid paralleling the westbound train approaching or standing at the station.
With such an indication at said point, the rule of the company covering the paralleling of trains can be properly observed. A similar precautionary signal is not installed for westbound movements, and if the engineer of train No. 479 had received such an indication as is provided for movements in the opposite direction this train could have been under control before emerging from the tunnel and stopped before reaching the station platform.
The company's rule Xo. 111, regarding the paralleling of trains, is as follows:
"On double tracks a train must not run into or pass" a station at which a passenger train is standing, unless signaled by the conductor of the standing train to do so."
An exception to such rule is contained in the employees' timetable, permitting the paralleling of trains at stations where there is an intertrack fence. Said rule reads as follows:
"General rule No. I11 is applicable to all stations which are not provided with protection for handling passengers in opposite direction."
It is difficult for an engineer of a westbound train to observe the above rule as to paralleling of trains at the Kingsland Station because it is impossible for the engineer to get a view of the station. This is due to the proximity of the tunnel to the station and to the fact that the engineer's position on the outer side of the curve precludes a clear view of the station, which, as stated above', is located on the eastbound side.
There is a rule of the company as follows:
"Conductor of train at the station will supervise the movement of other approaching trains and protect passengers from injury." Under this rule the crew of the special train, knowing of the physical conditions at Kingsland Station, time of arrival of train No. 479, that it was late, and that passengers were accustomed to boarding from the westbound platform, should have provided for some precaution in accordance with this rule, if it was possible to do so. They justify their failure to warn the westbound train on the ground that their own train had not come to a complete stop when the westbound train reached the station, thus giving them no opportunity to signal it.
It seems to us that a situation of danger is presented, therefore, at Kingsland Station for which the rules of the company do not adequately provide. The rule governing the paralleling of trains cannot be observed if an unobstructed view of a station cannot be had in time for the engineer to get his train under control while moving toward a standing train. We believe that the limited view prevented the engineer from seeing the standing train when emerging from the tunnel.
Train No. 479 was running about 30 miles per hour through the tunnel. While this was a little faster than the ordinary rate, because of its being behind time, it is evident that the engineer operated his train as was his custom to make the station stop.
It appears that since the accident the special train is now loaded on a siding in the Car Company's yard. It is not likely, therefore, that an accident of the same gravity will again occur at the Kingsland Station. Nevertheless, the lack of either an intertrack fence or a northern boundary fence to prevent passengers from crossing the tracks to the station, and the custom of persons to approach the station in that manner and to board eastbound trains from either side, creates a situation of danger, for which the railroad company cannot reasonably claim to be free from responsibility.
We conclude that a precautionary signal for westbound trains indicating the presence of a train in the Kingsland Station zone, resulting in slow speed regulation of the westbound train emerging from the tunnel, would have prevented the accident in question.
Such a signal should be installed east of the tunnel and should, be of a similar character to that now installed west of the station for the opposite movement.
Dated December 18th 1916.