Technical Reports

Crashworthiness of Passenger Trains: Safety of High-Speed Ground Transportation Systems

  • 01
  • Sep
  • 1996
AUTHOR: David Tyrell, Kristine Severson, Brian Marquis
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT-VNTSC-FRA-96-5
SUBJECT: Crashworthiness - Passenger Equipment
KEYWORDS: Crash Energy Management, Interior Crashworthiness, Occupant Restraint
ABSTRACT: Studies were conducted evaluating the effectiveness of alternative strategies for providing crashworthiness of the vehicle structures and on the effectiveness of alternative strategies for protecting occupants in train collisions, including friendly interior arrangements and occupant restraints. Conventional practice results in cars of essentially uniform longitudinal strength. The crash energy management approach requires varying strength through the train, with high strength in the occupied areas and lower strength in the unoccupied areas. For train-to-train collisions at closing speeds above 112 km/h (70 mph), the crash energy management approach is more effective than the conventional approach in preserving occupant volume. For closing speeds below 112 km/h (70 mph), both strategies are equally effective in preserving occupant volume. The crash energy management design results in gentler secondary impacts for train-to-train collisions than the conventional design of cars behind the first coach car, at all speeds analyzed. Head Injury Criteria (HIC), chest deceleration, and axial neck load were used to evaluate interior performance; the probability of fatality resulting from secondary impacts was evaluated for each of the interior configurations and restraint systems modeled based on these criteria. The results indicate that compartmentalization can be as effective as a lap belt in minimizing probability of fatality for the 50th percentile male simulated when the seats are arranged in forward-facing rows. Compartmentalization is an occupant protection strategy that requires seats or restraining barriers to be positioned in a manner that provides a compact, cushioned protection zone surrounding each occupant.

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