Overview of a Crash Energy Management Specification for Passenger Rail Equipment
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Overview of a Crash Energy Management Specification for Passenger Rail Equipment

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  • Abstract:
    At the request of METROLINK, the Federal Railroad

    Administration (FRA), with the Federal Transit Administration and the

    American Public Transportation Association, formed the ad hoc Crash

    Energy Management Working Group in May 2005. This group

    developed recommendations for crush zones in passenger rail cars for

    METROLINK to include in its procurement specification. The Volpe

    Center provided the Working Group with technical information from

    the research on passenger rail equipment crashworthiness it is

    conducting for FRA. METROLINK released its specification,

    including the recommendations from the Working Group, on

    September 16, 2005, as part of an invitation for bid.

    The specification includes three levels of requirements: train,

    car, and mechanism. The train level requirements specify a collision

    scenario for which there must be no intrusion into the occupied areas

    and limits on the relative velocities at which the operator and

    passenger may impact interior surfaces. The car and mechanism level

    requirements follow from the train level requirements. The car level

    requirements include specifications for a cab end crush zone capable

    of absorbing 3.0 million ft-lbs of energy and a non-cab end crush zone

    capable of absorbing 2.0 million ft-lbs. There are also specifications

    on the crush zone kinematics and on the target force/crush

    characteristics. Mechanism level requirements include specifications

    for the coupling mechanism, the load transfer mechanism, and the

    principal energy absorption mechanism. The coupling mechanism

    permits the coupler to push back, allowing the ends of adjacent cars to

    remain aligned and come together during an impact. The load transfer

    mechanism transmits the load from the adjacent equipment into the

    crush zone in a manner that allows the principal energy absorption

    mechanism to function as intended. The cab end load transfer

    mechanism can include a deformable LD that acts similarly to an

    automobile bumper, and resolves eccentric impact loads into loads that

    can be appropriately reacted by the supporting structure. The

    principal energy absorption mechanism is the section of the carbody

    structure intended to deform gracefully and to provide most of the

    required energy absorption.

    The specification prescribes performance for the train, the cab

    and trailer cars, and the mechanisms. Each requirement includes

    quantitative criteria for evaluation of compliance. The Working Group

    extensively discussed various evaluation methodologies, including

    non-linear large deformation finite element analysis and dynamic

    component tests, and worked to assure that practical evaluation

    methodologies are available for each requirement. For components

    critical to the functioning of the crush zone, tests are required. This

    paper describes the requirements, the associated criteria, and the

    available evaluation techniques. The technical bases driving the need

    for each of the requirements are discussed.

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