Development of Locomotive Crashworthy Components


Train collisions involving locomotives can result in serious damage and occupant injury due to the larger size and stiffness of the locomotive. In an effort to improve safety for rail passengers and operators, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) on behalf of the Federal Railroad Administration developed concepts for a more crashworthy locomotive with the intent of mitigating structural crush and preventing override. SGH assisted TIAX, LLC and the Volpe Center with designing a crash energy management (CEM) system for a locomotive along with material and component testing.

SGH reviewed and assisted with designing the two prototypes listed below:

  • Pushback coupler. Employs an H-type coupler attached to a pushback yoke and deformation tube
  • Deformable anti-climber. Employs four progressive buckling tubes (crush tubes) welded onto the front plate of the locomotive


We developed a testing plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the CEM systems. Our testing plan included preliminary material tests and quasi-static crush tube tests conducted at our in-house laboratory. Using results from the preliminary testing, SGH and TIAX modified the crush tubes in the deformable anti-climber. SGH also developed and oversaw a full-scale crash testing program executed at German facility. The full-scale test results validated predicted behavior.

Project Summary



Completion Date
Advanced Analysis | Applied Science & Research
Infrastructure & Transportation
Tiax, LLC
Specialized Capabilities
Computational Mechanics | Physical Testing