Technical Reports

Safety of High-Speed Ground Transportation Systems: The Aerodynamic Effects of Passing Trains to Surrounding Objects and People

  • 01
  • Apr
  • 2009
AUTHOR: Harvey Shui-Hong Lee
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-09/07
KEYWORDS: high-speed trains, window mount, window glazing, double-stacked containers, station platform, aerodynamic interactions, aerodynamic loads, transient loads, double-stacked well car, induced airflow
ABSTRACT: Two safety issues are raised on the aerodynamic effects of a passing train on its surroundings. First, a high-speed train passing other trains on an adjacent track exerts aerodynamic pressure that can affect the structural integrity of window mount and glazing, and the stability of the railroad car being passed. Second, as a high-speed train passes train stations immediately adjacent to the platform without stopping, people and objects on these station platforms are exposed to strong airflow causing debris and objects to be blown about and people to potentially lose their balance. This safety issue also extends to railroad workers on trackside as a high-speed train passes. The objective of the research was to obtain aerodynamic data on passing trains, and to assess its effects on other trains being passed, as well as on people in proximity to the passing trains. The study entailed both numerical simulation and experimentation. Numerical simulation included both simple single degree-of-freedom dynamics models, and more complex computational fluid dynamics and multi-body simulation models. Experimentation involved full-scale testing of a rail car passed by a high-speed train on an adjacent track, and measurement of train-induced airflow and forces on cylindrical dummies from a passing train.

####