Finite element analysis and full-scale testing of locomotive crashworthy components

April 29, 2013
Publication: Proceedings of 2013 ASME/IEEE Joint Rail Conference, JRC2013, April 15-18, 2013, Knoxville, TN
Author(s): Ronald Mayville Llana, Patricia Stringfellow, Richard

Abstract: The Office of Research and Development of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Volpe Center are continuing to evaluate new technologies for increasing the safety of passengers and operators in rail equipment. In recognition of the importance of override prevention in train-to-train collisions in which one of the vehicles is a locomotive, and in light of the success of crash energy management technologies in cab car-led passenger trains, the Volpe Center seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of components that could be integrated into the end structure of a locomotive that are specifically designed to mitigate the effects of a collision and, in particular, to prevent override of one of the lead vehicles onto the other. A research program has been conducted to develop, fabricate and test two crashworthy components for the forward end of a locomotive: (1) a deformable anti-climber, and (2) a push-back coupler. Detailed designs for these components were developed, and the performance of each design was evaluated through large deformation dynamic finite element analysis (FEA). Designs for two test articles that could be used to verify the performance of the component designs in full-scale tests were also developed. The two test articles were fabricated and dynamically tested by means of rail car impact in order to verify certain performance characteristics of the two components relative to specific requirements. The tests were successful in demonstrating the effectiveness of the two design concepts. Test results were consistent with finite element model predictions in terms of energy absorption capability, force-displacement behavior and modes of deformation.