Washington, DC

Crash Performance for Lightweight, High Speed Trains


The high speed train industry relies on relatively lightweight equipment to conserve energy and to minimize the effects on infrastructure and rolling stock design. Recent crashworthiness recommendations presented by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Engineering Task Force (ETF) to improve collision safety could lead to increased train weight and the high speed train industry requested further evaluation. Working for the FRA, SGH evaluated existing technology and the resulting impact on the weight of the train.

For this project, SGH identified the existing systems listed below and assessed the effects of the higher level of performance on weight.

  • Occupied volume structure
  • Energy absorption systems and components
  • Coupler technologies, including pushback couplers
  • Anti-climbing systems
  • Interior components, including seats
  • Fire protection systems

SGH’s work on this project also included the following tasks:

  • Investigation of current lightweight train component technology in Europe and Asia
  • Investigation of lightweight technologies in other industries, including the aircraft industry
  • Finite element analysis to establish a relationship between crash performance and weight for vehicle strength, seat strength, and structural fire resistance

Project Summary



Completion Date
New Construction
Advanced Analysis
Infrastructure & Transportation
Federal Railroad Administration
Specialized Capabilities
Computational Mechanics