Critical derailment incidents associated with crude oil and ethanol transport have led to a renewed focus on improving the performance of tank cars against the potential for puncture under derailment conditions. Proposed strategies for improving puncture performance have included design changes to tank cars as well as operational considerations, such as reduced speeds and upgraded brake systems. In a prior paper on this topic, the authors conceptualized a novel and objective methodology for quantifying and characterizing the reductions in risk that result from changes to tank car design or to the tank car operating environment.

This paper describes an extension of that effort to include additional derailment cases, additional operating speeds, considerations for alternate train configurations, such as Distributed Power (DP) and Electrically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes, as well as options for component level studies. In essence, the developed methodology considers key elements that are relevant to tank car derailment performance and combines these elements into a consistent probabilistic framework to estimate the relative merit of proposed mitigation strategies. The relevant elements considered include variations in the derailment scenarios, chaotic derailment dynamics, the distribution of impact loads and impactor sizes, various operating speeds, brake system differences, and variations in tank car design. The paper also provides an overview of the validation efforts which suggest that the gross dynamics of a tank car train derailment, and the resulting puncture performance of the tank cars, are captured well by this methodology.

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