The American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Construction and Structural committee, a railroad industry group, with the support of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), is creating an industry safety standard for an energy absorbing table. Workstation tables in passenger trains are an increasingly popular seating configuration both in the United States and abroad. Although a well-attached table can provide convenience and compartmentalization for the occupant, there is a risk of abdominal injury during a rail accident. In Fact, there have been several accidents in the United States in which impacts with workstation tables have severely or fatally injured occupants. In 2006, in response to these injuries, an FRA sponsored program developed a prototype table that distributed load over a wider area of the abdomen and absorbed energy during a collision. This table design was tested with specialized anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) instrumented to measure abdominal impact response and was shown to decrease injury risk compared to a baseline table design. Building on the knowledge gained in the development of the prototype table, the proposed standard requires force to the abdomen be limited while energy is absorbed by the table. Since manufacturers do not have access specialized ATDs, researchers proposed a two part testing requirement. The first part is a quasi-static test which measures the energy absorption capacity of the table with a maximum force level determined from testing with specialized abdominal ATDs. The second part is a sled test with a standard Hybrid III 50th percentile (HIII) ATD to assess compliance with occupant protection standards of compartmentalization and ATD injury assessment reference values (IARVs). This paper discusses the research performed to develop the performance requirement in the draft standard. Current injury measures, originally developed for the automotive industry, were examined to assess their applicability to workstation table impacts. Multiple Mathematical Dynamic Models (MADYMO) model simulations show the estimated injuries during a simulated sled test scenario. Several force-crush parameters were examined, including the initial stiffness of the force-crush curve, the plateau force and the target energy absorbed by the table, to determined the force-crush design characteristics of a table that are likely to reduce injury risk. The results of this study, combined with testing of the current prototype table described in a companion paper [1], led to a draft standard that will greatly improve the safety of workstation tables in passenger rail cars.

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