Development of crash energy management passenger rail equipment

Cab car-led passenger trains present a particular-ly challenging situation in collisions with loco-motive-led trains because the presence of passen-gers in the lead vehicle exposes them to risk. The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center), in support of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has conducted research on strategies that improve the crashwor-thiness of cab cars. One solution that better preserves occupied spaces in the trains is Crash Energy Management (CEM). CEM improves crashworthiness with crush zones designed to collapse in a controlled fashion during a collision, distributing the crush among the unoccupied areas of the train. Metro-link, a commuter rail authority in Los Angeles, was preparing to purchase new equipment at the time of an incident in Glendale, California. In this collision, a cab car-led train ran into a loco-motive-led train, resulting in 11 occupant fatali-ties. As part of its response to the incident, Metro-link decided to apply recent results of the Volpe Center’s passenger train crashworthiness research in its procurement. This research includes train-to-train impact tests that show a sizeable increase in crashworthiness with CEM. In coordination with the American Public Transportation As-sociation (APTA), Metrolink approached FRA and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Development of Crash Energy Management Passenger Rail EquipmentDepartment of TransportationJohn A. Volpe National Transportation Systems CenterFrom left: Daniel Parent, Tom Tsai,Jo Strang Gunars SponsFront row, left to right: Michelle Priante, Karina Jacobsen, Prof. Benjamin PerlmanBack row, left to right: David Tyrell, Michael Carolan, Eloy Martinez, Kristine Severson, Daniel ParentNot pictured: Cindy Gross and Charlie Bielitz Grady CothenFRA, FTA, and APTA de-cided to form the ad hoc CEM Working Group in May 2005. The group included govern-ment engineers and partici-pants from the rail industry, including passenger railroads, suppliers, labor organizations, and industry consultants. A detailed technical specifica-tion was developed in just over four months. This rapid development was pos-sible because of the availability of well-developed technical information. Metrolink’s commitment; the sustained existence of government/industry committees committed to increasing railroad safety; and the support of the FRA, Volpe Center, FTA, and APTA enabled Metrolink to release its specification in September 2005 as part of an invitation for bid. In May 2006, the award was made to Rotem, a division of Hyundai that man-ufactures rail equipment. The FRA and Volpe Center are continuing to work with Metrolink to ensure that the supplier meets the requirements. New equipment with the CEM features is expect-ed to be in service in 2009.
Award Year: