Technical Reports

Full-Scale Dynamic Testing of Locomotive Crashworthy Components

  • 27
  • Oct
  • 2015
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
KEYWORDS: locomotives; rail cars; override; collision; injury; impacts; testing; crash energy; management; push-back coupler; anti-climber
ABSTRACT: The Office of Research, Development, and Technology of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Volpe Center are evaluating new occupant protection technologies to increase the safety of passengers and operators in rail equipment. In view of the importance of override prevention in train-to-train collisions in which one of the vehicles is a locomotive, and the success of crash energy management technologies in cab-car-led passenger trains, the Volpe Center is evaluating the effectiveness of components that could be integrated into the end structure of a locomotive and are designed to mitigate the effects of a collision and, in particular, to prevent override of one lead vehicle onto the other. A research program has developed, fabricated, and tested two crashworthy components for the forward end of a locomotive: (1) a deformable anti-climber, and (2) a push-back coupler. Detailed designs were developed, and their performance was evaluated in large deformation dynamic finite element analysis (FEA). Designs were also developed for two test articles to verify the performance of the component designs in full-scale tests. The two test articles were fabricated and dynamically tested by means of rail car impact to verify their performance characteristics relative to specific requirements. The tests demonstrated the effectiveness of the two design concepts. Test results were consistent with finite element model predictions in terms of energy absorption capability, force-displacement behavior, and modes of deformation.