Train-to-Train Impact Test of Crash-Energy Management Passenger Rail Equipment: Structural Results
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Train-to-Train Impact Test of Crash-Energy Management Passenger Rail Equipment: Structural Results

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      On March 23, 2006, a full-scale test was conducted on a passenger rail train retrofitted with newly developed cab end and non-cab end crush zone designs. This test was conducted as part of a larger testing program to establish the degree of enhanced performance of alternative design strategies for passenger rail crashworthiness. The alternative design strategy is referred to as crash energy management (CEM), where the collision energy is absorbed in defined unoccupied locations throughout the train in a controlled progressive manner. By controlling the deformations at critical locations the CEM train is able to protect against two dangerous modes of deformation: override and large-scale lateral buckling. The CEM train impacted a standing locomotive-led train of equal mass at 31 mph on tangent track. The interactions at the colliding interface and between coupled interfaces performed as expected. Crush was pushed back to subsequent crush zones and the moving passenger train remained in-line and upright on the tracks with minimal vertical and lateral motions. The added complexity associated with this test over previous full-scale tests of the CEM design was the need to control the interactions at the colliding interface between the two very different engaging geometries. The cab end crush zone performed as intended because the locomotive coupler pushed underneath the cab car buffer beam, and the deformable anti-climber engaged the uneven geometry of the locomotive anti-climber and short hood. Space was preserved for the operator as the cab end crush zone collapsed. The coupled interfaces performed as predicted by the analysis and previous testing. The conventional interlocking anti-climbers engaged after the pushback couplers triggered and absorbed the prescribed amount of energy. Load was transferred through the integrated end frame, and progressive controlled collapsed was contained to the energy absorbers at the roof and floor level. The results of this full-scale test have clearly demonstrated the significant enhancement in safety for passengers and crew members involved in a push mode collision with a standing locomotive train.
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