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Rail Car Impact Tests With Steel Coil: Collision Dynamics

[+] Author Affiliations
Karina Jacobson, David Tyrell

U.S. Department of Transportation, Cambridge, MA

Benjamin Perlman

Tufts University, Medford, MA

Paper No. RTD2003-1655, pp. 73-82; 10 pages
  • IEEE/ASME 2003 Joint Rail Conference
  • Joint Rail
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, April 22–24, 2003
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-3666-5
  • Copyright © 2003 by ASME


Two full-scale oblique grade-crossing impact tests were conducted in June 2002 to compare the crashworthiness performance of alternative corner post designs on rail passenger cab cars. On June 4, 2002 a cab car fitted with an end structure built to pre-1999 requirements impacted a steel coil at approximately 14 mph. Following, on June 7, 2002 a cab car fitted with an end structure built to current requirements underwent the same test. Each car was equipped with strain gauges, string potentiometers and accelerometers to measure the deformation of specific structural elements, and the longitudinal, lateral and vertical displacements of the car body. The gross motions of the cars and steel coil, the force/crush behavior of the end structures, and the deformation of major elements in the end structures were measured during the tests. During the first test, the car fitted with the 1990’s design end structure acquired more than 20 inches of longitudinal deformation causing failure at the corner post and resulting in the loss of operator survival space. During the second test, the corner post on the car fitted with the State-of-the-Art design deformed longitudinally by about 8 inches, causing no failure and consequently preserving the survivable operator volume. In both cases, the steel coil was thrown to the side of the train after impacting the end structure. Prior to the tests, the crush behaviors of the cars and their dynamic responses were simulated with car crush and collision dynamics models. The car crush model was used to determine the force/crush characteristics of the corner posts, as well as their modes of deformation. The collision dynamics model was used to predict the extent of crush of the corner posts as functions of impact velocity, as well as the three-dimensional accelerations, velocities, and displacements of the cars and coil. Both models were used in determining the instrumentation and its locations. This paper describes the collision dynamics model and compares predictions for the gross motions of the cars and coils made with this model with measurements from the tests. A companion paper describes the car crush model and compares predictions made of car crush with measurements from the test. The collision dynamics was analyzed using a lumped-parameter model, with non-linear stiffness characteristics. The suspension of the car is included in the model in sufficient detail to predict derailment. The model takes the force/crush characteristic developed in the car crush analysis as input, and includes the lateral force that develops as the corner post is loaded longitudinally. The results from the full-scale grade-crossing impact tests largely agree with and confirm the preliminary results of the three-dimensional lumped parameter computer model of the collision dynamics. The predictions of the model for the three-dimensional accelerations, velocities, and displacements of the car and the coil are in very close agreement with the measurements made in the tests of both cars, up to the time of failure of the corner post. The cars remained on the track in both tests, as predicted with the model.

Copyright © 2003 by ASME



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