Top fittings devices on tank cars are subject to damage and failure under derailment conditions, potentially leading to the release of hazardous lading. This paper describes the conceptual development of an objective methodology for evaluating the risk of fittings protection failure and the potential reduction in that risk when mitigating strategies such as improved fittings protective structure are deployed. The methodology captures several key elements that affect fittings survival, including: the speed of derailment initiation, the impact velocity/force spectrum experienced by the fittings protective structure during the event, the strength/structural capacity of the protective structure, and the rigidity of the ground surface.

Detailed finite element modeling efforts were employed to capture derailment dynamics and corresponding impact velocity spectra, as well as the strength of multiple protective designs. Future work, including validation, is planned to extend the concept into a detailed methodology.

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