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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  • English

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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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