Crash Energy Management (CEM) systems protect passengers in the event of a train collision. A CEM system distributes crush throughout designated unoccupied crush zones of a passenger rail consist. This paper examines the influence of manufacturing variations in the CEM system on the crashworthiness of CEM passenger rail equipment. To perform effectively, a CEM system must have certain features. A coupling mechanism allows coupled cars to come together in a controlled fashion and absorb energy. A load transfer mechanism ensures that the car ends mate and maintain contact. A principal energy absorber mechanism is responsible for absorbing the vast majority of crash energy. These components function by providing an increasing force-crush characteristic when they are overloaded. The force-crush behavior can vary due to manufacturing tolerances. For the purposes of this research, the pushback coupler, the deformable anticlimber, and the primary energy absorber were the devices that performed these functions. It was confirmed in this study that the force-crush characteristic of the pushback coupler and the primary energy absorber have the greatest influence on crashworthiness performance. To represent the influence of these parameters, the average force of the pushback coupler and the average force of the primary energy absorber were examined. A cab-led passenger train impacting a standing freight consist was represented as a one-dimensional lumped-mass model. The force-crush characteristic for each coach car end was adjusted to examine the effects of variation in manufacturing. Each car end was modified independently while holding all other car ends constant. The model used in this study was designed to be comparable with a 30 mph, full-scale, train-to-train CEM test. Using crush distribution and secondary impact velocity as measures of crashworthiness, the standard CEM consist performance has a maximum crashworthiness speed limit of 40 mph. Percent total energy absorbed was used as a means of comparison between cars for each consist configuration. When energy absorption levels are decreased at any particular car end, crush tends to be drawn towards this car end. Correspondingly, when available energy levels are increased at a car end, crush is drawn away from this car end. For both cases, the overall distribution of crush has more of an effect locally and less of an effect at other coupled interfaces. This paper shows that moderate variations in crush behavior may occur due to manufacturing tolerances and have little influence on the crashworthiness performance of CEM systems.

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