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Fuel Tank Crashworthiness: Loading Scenarios

[+] Author Affiliations
Karina Jacobsen

Volpe National Transportation Systems Center - USDOT, Cambridge, MA

Paper No. JRC2011-56077, pp. 291-300; 10 pages
  • 2011 Joint Rail Conference
  • 2011 Joint Rail Conference
  • Pueblo, Colorado, USA, March 16–18, 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5459-4 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3893-8


The Federal Railroad Administration’s Office of Research and Development is conducting research into fuel tank crashworthiness. The breaching of fuel tanks during passenger rail collisions and derailments increases the potential of serious injury and fatality due to fire. This paper identifies and describes common collision loading scenarios for locomotive fuel tanks on the U.S. general railroad system. Developing scenarios that characterize this situation is the first step in crashworthiness research methodology for improving rail equipment safety. A survey of accidents within the U.S. between 1995 and present was used to identify fuel tank impact scenarios as follows: impact with adjacent railcar component; oblique impact with another railcar; rollover leading to impact with another railcar; derailment or rollover leading to grounding; and impact with rail. These collision scenarios are further categorized by the types of collision modes experienced by the fuel tank, i.e. impact type and impact location. These loading conditions establish targets for evaluating current levels of fuel tank integrity and potentially developing improved strategies for enhancing fuel tank integrity.



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