Effectiveness of alternative rail passenger equipment crashworthiness strategies
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Effectiveness of alternative rail passenger equipment crashworthiness strategies

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  • English

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    • Abstract:
      Crashworthiness strategies, which include crash energy

      management (CEM), pushback couplers, and push/pull

      operation, are evaluated and compared under specific collision

      conditions. Comparisons of three strategies are evaluated in

      this paper:

      - Push versus Pull Operation (Cab Car Led versus

      Locomotive Led Consists)

      - Conventional versus CEM Consists

      - Incremental CEM versus Full-CEM

      Rail cars that incorporate CEM are designed to absorb collision

      energy through crushing of unoccupied structures within the

      car. Pushback couplers are designed to recede into the draft sill

      under collision loads and enable the car ends to come into

      contact, minimizing the likelihood of lateral buckling.

      Push/pull operation refers to operating either a locomotive (pull

      mode) or a cab car (push mode) at the leading end of the train.

      Five cases using combinations of these three strategies are

      evaluated. The basic collision scenario for each case analyzed

      in this paper is a train-to-train collision between like trains.

      Each train has a locomotive, four coach cars, and a cab car. The

      impact velocity ranges from 10 to 40 mph.

      The following five cases are evaluated:

      1. All conventional cars with a cab car leading (baseline


      2. All conventional cars with a locomotive leading

      3. Conventional coach cars with pushback couplers, with

      CEM cab car leading

      4. All CEM cars with a cab car leading

      5. All CEM cars with a locomotive leading

      A one-dimensional lumped-mass collision dynamics model

      is used to evaluate the effectiveness of each strategy, or

      combination of strategies, in terms of preserving survivable

      space for occupants and minimizing secondary impact velocity

      (SIV). Test data is used to correlate SIV with head, chest, and

      neck injury. Probability of serious injuries and fatalities are

      calculated based on calculated car crush and injury values. The

      maximum crashworthy speed, or the maximum impact speed at

      which everyone is expected to survive, is calculated for each


      Of the five cases evaluated, the scenario of a cab car led

      conventional consist represents the baseline level of

      crashworthiness. The highest levels of crashworthiness are

      achieved by a consist of all CEM cars with a locomotive

      leading, followed by all CEM cars with a cab car leading. The

      results indicate that incremental improvements in collision

      safety can be made by judiciously applying different

      combinations of these crashworthiness strategies. A CEM cab

      car leading conventional cars that are modified with pushback

      couplers enhances the level of crashworthiness over a

      conventional cab car led consist and provides a level of

      crashworthiness equal to a locomotive leading conventional

      passenger cars.

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