US woman throws girl in front of oncoming train, police claim

train tracks US woman throws girl Autumn Matacchiera
Autumn Matacchiera grabbed a 5-year-old girl and threw her onto the train tracks of Burlington station. (file)

A 20-year-old New Jersey woman has been charged with attempted murder after police officers claim they saw her push a child in front of an oncoming train. 

The incident occurred in Burlington on Thursday (NZ time) when Autumn Matacchiera grabbed the five-year-old from her mother at the township's light rail station and threw her on the tracks.  

Police were able to signal for the train to stop and the mother's boyfriend quickly jumped onto the tracks to rescue the child.

New Jersey Police Captain John Fine told, the woman is in custody and is undergoing a mental evaluation at Lourdes Medical Centre.

Police say it was a random attack and the child sustained cuts and bruising to the face. 

Ms Matacchiera's mother told she was glad the girl was okay, but defended her daughter, saying she was "not a criminal".

"She has mental health issues," Laura Matacchiera said. "It's an ongoing problem."

Laura Matacchiera said her daughter had been "in and out" of mental health institutions for the past six years.