Conventional locomotive coupling tests : test requirements and pre-test analysis
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Conventional locomotive coupling tests : test requirements and pre-test analysis

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  • English

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    • Alternative Title:
      Joint Rail Conference, April 12-15, 2016, Columbia, SC
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    • Abstract:
      Research to develop new technologies for increasing the safety of passengers and crew in rail equipment is being directed by the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA’s) Office of Research, Development, and Technology. Crash energy management (CEM) components which can be integrated into the end structure of a locomotive have been developed: a push-back coupler and a deformable anti-climber. These components are designed to inhibit override in the event of a collision. The results of vehicle-to-vehicle override, where the strong underframe of one vehicle, typically a locomotive, impacts the weaker superstructure of the other vehicle, can be devastating. The components are designed to improve crashworthiness for equipped locomotives in a wide range of potential collisions, including collisions with conventional locomotives, conventional cab cars, and freight equipment.

      Concerns have been raised in discussions with industry that push-back couplers may trigger prematurely, and may require replacement due to unintentional activation as a result of service loads. It has been shown analytically that push back coupler trigger loads exceed the service load capacity of conventional couplers and draft gears. Two sets of coupling tests are planned to demonstrate this, one with a locomotive equipped with conventional draft gear and coupler and another with a locomotive equipped with a pushback coupler. These tests allow for comparison of conventional with CEM-equipped locomotive measured performance during coupling. In addition to the coupling tests, car-to-car compatibility tests of equipped locomotives and a train-to-train test are also planned. This arrangement of tests allows for evaluation of the CEM-equipped locomotive performance, as well as comparison of measured with simulated locomotive performance in the car-to-car and train-to-train tests. In the coupling tests of conventional equipment, the maximum coupling speed for which there is no damage to either vehicle will be measured. A moving locomotive will be coupled to a standing cab car. The coupling speed for the first test will be 2 mph, the second test 4 mph, and the tests will continue with the speed incrementing by 2 mph until damage occurs to either vehicle.

      This paper describes the test requirements and analysis predictions for the coupling tests of conventional equipment. The equipment to be tested, track conditions, test procedures, and measurements to be made are described. A one-dimensional model for predicting the longitudinal forces acting on the equipment and couplers has been developed, along with preliminary predictions for the conventional coupling tests. It is expected that damage will occur for coupling speeds between 6 and 8 mph.

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