Designing safe tank cars carrying hazardous materials is necessary for effective and reliable operations of freight railroad transportation. Despite the increasing research efforts over the past 15 years to achieve such an objective, there are still many questions and challenges. This paper focuses on the assessment of the safety of novel railroad tank cars under general impact conditions in train accidents. This paper presents a simulation-based analytical framework to evaluate the accident performance of railroad tank cars under various rolling stock and operating environment features. The framework is based on a high-fidelity finite element (FE) model that captures the essential accident characteristics of trains in a derailment. The FE model includes key input parameters that can affect the derailment behavior of railcars, such as ground friction, embankment grade, and braking time. The model is validated with actual train derailments to ensure its accuracy and practicality. In addition, the framework leverages data collected from the physical testing of tank cars and insights obtained from statistical analyses of historical train derailments. As such, the framework enables a more accurate evaluation of the risk and performance of tank cars during derailments. Whether for existing or new trains, metrics such as the expected number of cars derailed, the conditional probability of tank car release, and the peak impact force during train derailments can be obtained using this framework. As an illustration, the proposed simulation-based framework is used to evaluate the three real-case train derailments.

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