U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a public-private partnership to improve rail passenger safety by conducting a series of full-scale passenger train crash tests this fall at the DOT Transportation Technology Center (TTC) at Pueblo, Colo.
The project is supported by a $1 million Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) contract with Simula, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., to provide technical support and testing equipment.
"Safety is President Clintonís highest transportation priority, and these tests will help us improve both operator and passenger safety in passenger rail cars," said Secretary Slater. "This public-private partnership underscores President Clinton and Vice President Goreís commitment to putting the safety of the American people first."
This project is a team effort by participants from the U.S. Department of Transportationís Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); Transportation Technology Center, Incorporated (TTCI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads; the U.S. Department of Transportationís Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, Cambridge, Mass.; the departmentí s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); Simula; and the American Public Transit Association (APTA).
The first test will involve a full-scale passenger rail vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour colliding into a rigid concrete wall. The concrete wall provides a consistent means for validating predictive models, and has been specially built at TTC for this purpose. The vehicle will be equipped with various passenger seat designs to test the effectiveness of passenger protection on human-like dummies Ė the same Hybrid III dummies used by NHTSA for car crash tests.
Future tests at TTC will examine the behavior of multiple cars in collisions on curves and at switches, and collisions between cab-car trains and freight locomotives.
"These tests will help the United States develop train component designs to increase passenger safety. It will enable us to have the most advanced safety features in our passenger rail equipment as we enter the new millennium," said FRA Administrator Jolene M. Molitoris.
In May 1999 the FRA issued historic, comprehensive standards in a rule to improve the safety of Americaís railroad passenger equipment. The rule includes many crashworthiness requirements for intercity and commuter rail vehicles. In addition, the FRA worked with APTA and its Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards Task Force in developing industry safety standards and recommended practices for commuter rail cars.
The intent of these tests is to further verify modeling predictions and lead to development of safer rail-car design and operating guidelines. The series of full-scale tests will provide the technical data needed to evaluate specific crashworthiness features incorporated in existing car designs and to validate computer models that are helping to determine future improvements in designs.
Simula is an international company with headquarters in Phoenix. It has 10 divisions and subsidiaries and employs more than 1,000 people. Simula has expertise in crash survival design and manufacturing in all modes of transportation.
- Federal Railroad Administration