As part of the passenger equipment crashworthiness research, sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration and supported by the Volpe Center, passenger coach and cab cars have been tested in inline collision conditions. The purpose of these tests was to establish baseline levels of crashworthiness performance for the conventional equipment and demonstrate the minimum achievable levels of enhancement using performance based alternatives. The alternative strategy pursued is the application of the crash energy management design philosophy. The goal is to provide a survivable volume where no intrusion occurs so that passengers can safely ride out the collision or derailment. In addition, lateral buckling and override modes of deformation are prevented from occurring. This behavior is contrasted with that observed from both full scale tests recently conducted and historical accidents where both lateral buckling and/or override occurs for conventionally designed equipment. A prototype crash energy management coach car design has been developed and successfully tested in two full-scale tests. The design showed significant improvements over the conventional equipment similarly tested. The prototype design had to meet several key requirements including: it had to fit within the same operational volume of a conventional car, it had to be retrofitted onto a previously used car, and it had to be able to absorb a prescribed amount of energy within a maximum allowable crush distance. To achieve the last requirement, the shape of the force crush characteristic had to have tiered force plateaus over prescribed crush distances to allow for crush to be passed back from one crush zone to another. The distribution of crush along the consist length allows for significantly higher controlled energy absorption which results in higher safe closing speeds.

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