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Crash Energy Management Crush Zone Designs: Features, Functions, and Forms

[+] Author Affiliations
Michelle Priante

U.S. Department of Transportation, Cambridge, MA

Eloy Martinez

Federal Railroad Administration, Washington, DC

Paper No. JRC/ICE2007-40051, pp. 71-81; 11 pages
  • ASME/IEEE 2007 Joint Rail Conference and Internal Combustion Engine Division Spring Technical Conference
  • ASME/IEEE 2007 Joint Rail Conference and Internal Combustion Engine Division Spring Technical Conference
  • Pueblo, Colorado, USA, March 13–16, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Rail Transportation Division and Internal Combustion Engine Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4787-X | eISBN: 0-7918-3795-5


On March 23, 2006, a full-scale test was conducted on a passenger train retrofitted with newly developed cab and coach car crush zone designs. This test was conducted as part of a larger testing program to establish the degree of enhanced performance of alternative design strategies for passenger rail crashworthiness. The alternative design strategy is referred to as Crash Energy Management (CEM) where the collision energy is absorbed in defined unoccupied locations throughout the train in a controlled progressive manner. By controlling the deformations at critical locations, the CEM train is able to protect against two very dangerous modes of deformation: override and large scale lateral buckling. The CEM train impacted a standing locomotive-led train of equal mass at 30.8 mph on tangent track. The interactions at the colliding interface and between coupled interfaces performed as designed. Crush was pushed back to subsequent crush zones, and the moving passenger train remained in-line and upright on the tracks with minimal vertical and lateral motions. This paper evaluates the functional performance of the crush zone components during the CEM test. The paper discusses three areas of the CEM consist: the leading cab car end, which interacts with a standing locomotive; the coupled interfaces, which connect the CEM non-cab end; and the trailing cab car end, which interacts with the attached trailing locomotive. The paper includes a description of the crush zone features and performance. The pushback coupler must absorb energy in a controlled progressive manner and prevent lateral buckling by allowing the ends of the cars to come together. The deformable anti-climbers are required to resolve non-longitudinal loads into planar loads through the integrated end frame while minimizing the potential for override. The energy absorbers must absorb energy in a controlled progressive manner. The engineer’s space must be preserved so that the engineer can ride out the event. The passenger space must be preserved so that the passengers can ride out the event. The prototype CEM design presented in this paper met all the functional design requirements. This paper describes how the crush zones perform at three different interfaces. Areas for potential improvements include the design of the primary energy absorbers, the placement of the engineer’s compartment, and the interaction between the last coach car and the trailing locomotive.



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