Train derailment experts evaluate an incident to determine the cause and whether it is related to human factors, a mechanical defect, or an outside source. The cause of derailment may be related to human error or the structural engineering of the train and/or track. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the Hoboken, NJ, commuter train crash that occurred September 29, 2016. The October 1, 2016 NTSB update states:
The NTSB retrieved the event recorder that was in the locomotive at the rear of the train but hasn’t been able to download its data and has gone to the manufacturer for help. The event recorder contains speed and braking information
The NTSB also hasn’t been able to extract a recorder from the forward-facing video camera in the train’s mangled first car. The wreckage cannot be safely entered yet because it is under a collapsed section of the station’s roof.
Federal investigators have uncovered no apparent problems with the signals or tracks at the New Jersey train station as of October 1st. The accident investigation is hampered because the Hoboken suffered structural damage and the asbestos levels at the crash site are high.
When litigation follows a railway accident, train derailment experts are charged with analyzing data to determine the probable cause of the accident. They are knowledgeable on all railroad operations and the federal regulations in place to maintain railroad safety. These experts can interpret data on event recorders, camera footage, and other physical evidence found at the accident scene. Their technical expertise is needed to evaluate complex railway accident documentation and present an informed and unbiased opinion before the court.