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Train-to-Train Impact Test of Crash-Energy Management Passenger Rail Equipment: Occupant Experiments
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  • Abstract:
    As part of an ongoing passenger rail crashworthiness effort,

    a full-scale impact test of a train with crash energy management

    (CEM) passenger cars was conducted on March 23, 2006. In

    this test, a train made up of a CEM cab car, four CEM coach

    cars, and a locomotive impacted a stationary train of similar

    mass at 30.8 mph. This test included five occupant experiments

    on the cab car and the first coach car to evaluate occupant

    injury risk and seat/table performance during the collision

    using anthropomorphic devices (ATDs).

    Three occupant protection strategies were evaluated in these

    occupant experiments. Forward-facing intercity seats were

    modified to reduce the high head injury risk observed in a

    previous test. Prototype commuter seats, included in both

    forward-facing and rear-facing orientations, were designed to

    mitigate the consequences of higher decelerations in the lead

    two CEM cars. Improved workstation tables, tested with two

    different advanced ATDs, were designed to compartmentalize

    the occupants and reduce the upper abdominal injury risk to the


    Similar experiments were also conducted on the two-car

    impact test of CEM equipment [1]. The experiments described

    in this paper were conducted to evaluate the level of occupant

    protection provided by seats and tables that were specifically

    designed to improve crashworthiness. Pre-test analyses

    indicated that the occupant environment would be more severe

    for the CEM test than for the comparable test of conventional

    equipment. The environment in the leading cab car was

    predicted to be similar to a 12g, 250 millisecond triangular

    crash pulse. The environment in the first coach was predicted to

    be comparable to an 8g, 250 millisecond crash pulse.

    To aid the design of the occupant experiments, occupant

    response models were developed for each of the occupant

    experiments using MADYMO. These models were developed

    for the previous two-car CEM full-scale test and adapted to the

    newly designed commuter seats and tables. Predictions of the

    occupant response during the CEM train-to-train test were

    developed before the test. The models were subsequently finetuned

    to better agree with the test data, so that many different

    collision scenarios may be simulated.

    Most of the test results were similar to the pre-test

    predictions. The modified intercity seats successfully

    compartmentalized the occupants. The risk of both head and

    neck injury, however, were above the respective injury

    threshold values. In the forward-facing commuter seat

    experiment the impacted seat experienced a partial failure of

    the seat pedestal attachment, resulting in loss of

    compartmentalization. The attachment failures occurred

    because the seats weren't fabricated as designed. However, the

    occupants were still compartmentalized, and the injury criteria

    were within survivable levels. The rear-facing commuter seat

    experiment experienced a more significant failure of the seat

    pedestal attachment, resulting in a loss of

    compartmentalization. The attachment failures likely occurred

    because the seats were not fabricated as designed and the

    collision was slightly more severe than predicted. To assure that

    this failure mode is prevented in the future, a more robust

    attachment is currently being developed. It will be tested quasistatically

    and dynamically to demonstrate its effectiveness. The

    improved workstation tables successfully compartmentalized

    the occupants while limiting the injury risk to acceptable levels.

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