Collision Scenarios for Assessing Crashworthiness of Passenger Rail Equipment
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Collision Scenarios for Assessing Crashworthiness of Passenger Rail Equipment

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  • English

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      In June 2009, at the request of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee established the Engineering Task Force (ETF). The ETF is comprised of government, railroads, suppliers, and labor organizations and their consultants. The ETF was tasked with recommending a process for assessing alternative Tier I passenger rail equipment, i.e., passenger equipment that is operated at speeds up to 125 mph on the general railroad system. The final product of the ETF is a document outlining criteria and procedures for demonstrating crashworthiness performance of passenger rail equipment built to alternative design standards and proposed for operation in the US. The results provide a means of assessing whether an alternative design compares to designs compliant with the FRA’s Tier I crashworthiness requirements.

      This paper focuses on the criteria and procedures developed for scenario-based requirements. The principle collision scenario describes the minimum train-level crashworthiness performance required in a train-to-train collision of an alternatively designed passenger train with a conventional locomotive-led passenger train. For cab car-led and MU locomotive-led operations, the impact speed is prescribed at 20 mph. For locomotive led operations, the impact speed is prescribed at 25 mph. Criteria for evaluating this scenario include intrusion limits for the passengers and engineer, and occupant protection measures. Other scenario-based requirements discussed in this paper include colliding equipment override, connected equipment override, and truck attachment.

      INTRODUCTION Passenger-carrying equipment operating on the general railroad system is subject to regulations promulgated by FRA.

      These regulations include structural strength and other crashworthiness requirements for the equipment [1]. These requirements are typically strength based; manual calculations can be performed to show compliance; and either implicitly or explicitly assume the presence of particular design features.

      Equipment designed and built to foreign requirements is being considered for application in the US as new passenger rail systems and the expansion of existing systems are being planned. Application of FRA crashworthiness regulations to equipment designed to alternative standards may not be straightforward; such equipment may not have the specific design features assumed by the regulations.

      Passenger rail equipment built to alternative designs may be considered for use on the US general rail system through a waiver request to the FRA. Due to the increasing interest in purchasing and operating passenger equipment designed and built to foreign standards, waiver requests have been on the rise.

      In consultation with the rail industry, FRA is developing alternative criteria and procedures for assessing the crashworthiness of rail passenger equipment that are applicable to a wide range of equipment designs. These criteria and procedures are intended to be used by the rail industry in developing information to support waiver petitions and by the FRA in evaluating waiver petitions. They are being developed to encourage the application of the latest crashworthiness technology, such as Crash Energy Management [2], and to facilitate the application of sophisticated evaluation procedures, such as computer simulations and destructive tests of components.

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