Fixed workstation tables in passenger rail coaches can pose a potential injury hazard for passengers seated at them during an accident. Tables designed to absorb impact energy while minimizing contact forces can reduce the risk of serious injury, while helping to compartmentalize occupants during a train collision. The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) in the U.K. issued safety requirement GM/RT2100, Issue 5  and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in the U.S. issued safety standard APTA PR-CS-S-018-13, Rev. 1  with the goals of setting design and performance requirements for energy-absorbing workstation tables.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Research, Development and Technology directed the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) to evaluate the performance of the Hybrid-III Rail Safety (H3-RS) anthropomorphic test device (ATD), also known as a test dummy, in the APTA sled test in order to incorporate a reference to the H3-RS in the safety standard. The Volpe Center contracted with the manufacturer of the H3-RS, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), in the U.K. to conduct a series of sled tests  with energy-absorbing tables, donated by various table manufacturers. The tables were either already compliant with the RSSB table standard or were being developed to comply with the APTA table standard.
The sled test specified in Option A of the APTA table standard involves the use of two different 50th percentile male frontal impact ATDs. The H3-RS and the standard Hybrid-III (H3-50M) ATDs performed as expected. The H3-RS, which features bilateral deflection sensors in the chest and abdomen, was able to measure abdomen deflections while the H3-50M, which features a single sensor measuring chest compression, was not equipped to measure abdomen deflection.
This study attempts to validate a finite element (FE) model of the APTA 8G sled test with respect to the thorax response of the H3-RS and H3-50M. The model uses a simplified rigid body-spring representation of one of the energy absorbing tables tested by TRL. The FE models of the H3-RS ATD and the H3-50M ATD were provided by TRL and LSTC, respectively. Results from the sled tests and FE simulations are compared using data obtained from the chest accelerometer, the chest and abdomen deflection sensors, and the femur load cells. Using video analysis, the gross motion of the dummies and table are also compared. Technical challenges related to model validation of the 8G sled test are also discussed.
This study builds on previous analyses conducted to validate the abdomen response of the H3-RS FE model, which are presented in a companion paper .