Improved tank car safety research
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Improved tank car safety research

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  • Alternative Title:
    Proceedings of the 2007 ASME Rail Transportation Division Fall Technical Conference
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  • Abstract:
    Three recent accidents involving the release of hazardous

    material have focused attention on the structural integrity of

    railroad tank cars: (1) Minot, ND, on January 18, 2002; (2)

    Macdona, TX, on June 28, 2004; and (3) Graniteville, SC, on

    January 6, 2005. Each of these accidents resulted in fatalities.

    Research is being conducted to develop strategies for

    improving railroad tank cars so they can maintain tank integrity

    in severe accidents. A collaborative effort called the Next

    Generation Rail Tank Car (NGRTC) Project intends to use

    these research results to help develop improved tank car

    designs. Dow Chemical Company, Union Pacific Railroad, and

    Union Tank Car Company are the industry sponsors of the

    NGRTC Project. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)

    and Transport Canada participate in the NGRTC project

    through Memoranda of Cooperation. FRA and the Pipeline and

    Hazardous Materials Safety Administration intend to use these

    research results to support rulemaking.

    The approach taken in performing this research is to define

    the collision conditions of concern, to evaluate the behavior of

    current design equipment in these scenarios, and to develop

    alternative strategies for increasing the maximum impact speed

    for which tank integrity is maintained.

    The accident scenarios have been developed from a review

    of accidents and are intended to bound the range of main-line

    accidents that can lead to a release of hazardous material from a

    tank car. The accident scenarios and collision modes have been

    used to define car-to-car impact scenarios. These car-to-car

    impact scenarios define the conditions under which the

    commodity must be contained. The impact scenarios are being

    used to evaluate the integrity of current design and improved

    design tank cars.

    Full-scale impact tests are also being conducted, to help

    validate modeling of the baseline equipment. The models have

    been refined based on the test results. The models are now

    being applied to develop the improved equipment designs.

    This paper describes the overall research framework and

    provides an overview of the research done to date, as well as

    the planned efforts.

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