Technical Reports

Aerodynamic Effects of High-Speed Passenger Trains on Other Trains

  • 01
  • Apr
  • 2002
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Adminisration; Samuel Holmes; Martin P. Schroeder
SUBJECT: Safety Advisories, Safety Regulatory Analysis, Safety Performance Measures
KEYWORDS: Derailment, Container dislodgement, Aerodynamic load, Double stack container, Pressure contours, Bi-level passenger rail car, High speed rail
ABSTRACT: With the onset of high-speed train operations in the United States, a study was undertaken to determine the possible aerodynamic effects of these trains have on their surroundings. The aerodynamic interaction between a high-speed train passing other trains, and its effects on the structural integrity of window mounts and glazing as well as the stability of large lightweight empty container cars operating on adjacent tracks were analyzed. Although car-body roll of container car was not significant, the analysis indicates that the potential for derailment was greatest for cars with empty containers, while wheel lift was eliminated and the lateral to vertical wheel/rail forces (L/V) were much lower when all containers were fully loaded. Another area of investigation focused on the effects of aerodynamic pressure and airflow generated from high-speed trains to people standing on the passing station platform. Computational fluid dynamics analysis, rail dynamics simulation models, and field measurements using pitot tubes and aerodynamic dummies developed by the French National Railways (SNCF) were used to study these effects. Preliminary results show the aerodynamic effect of an Acela Express at 150 mph is less than that of a conventional train at 125 mph.