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Simula to Evaluate Passenger Rail Safety Issues in Federal Railroad Administration's Full-Scale Crash Tests

Simula Inc. : Tuesday, August 31, 1999
Simula, Inc. has been awarded a contract by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to lead human-injury and occupant-protection portions of a first-ever passenger train crash test that FRA will perform this fall at a Pueblo, Colorado test facility. The $1 million dollar Simula contract will be administered through the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Simula announced in June that it is leaving the rail seating business but will retain its proprietary safety technologies. "Notwithstanding our exit from railcar seat manufacturing, we will continue to build our core competencies for occupant protection and safety systems across all categories of transportation vehicles," explained Don Townsend, President of Simula. "Additionally, we anticipate that we will enter into an agreement with the buyer of the rail seating business to license the safety technologies we develop in the coming years," he concluded.

The full-scale test will crash a single passenger rail car traveling at 30 miles per hour into a rigid concrete barrier. Human-like test dummies of various sizes will be situated in seats throughout the train and instrumented by Simula to measure crash forces. Additionally, high-speed still and video cameras within the rail car will capture dummy movements. This data will allow Simula to calculate the probability of human injury under various crash scenarios. A second full-scale crash test will involve two coupled passenger rail cars with seats and dummies in a crash condition similar to the first test.

Recognizing that crash testing of rail equipment has lagged behind its automotive and aviation counterparts, and with the introduction later this year of high-speed passenger trains in the United States, the U.S. Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Alabama Senator Richard Shelby and with the strong support of Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, provided funding for the Federal Railroad Administration to perform full-scale crash tests of passenger trains. The principle purpose of these tests is to improve passenger and operator safety. The Pueblo, Colorado test facility, the Transportation Technology Center, is owned by FRA.

"Recent years have seen incredible advances in crash design and passenger safety systems for cars and airplanes," Senator Campbell said. "America's rail system must utilize those same technologies to maintain and improve its safety record. The Transportation Technology Center, a leading rail testing facility, is a logical place for this research. I look forward to continuing to work on this important project," he concluded.

Simula, the FRA, Volpe and the American Public Transit Association (APTA), as part of the rail industry's Passenger Rail Equipment Safety Standards (PRESS) Task Force, have collaborated over the past several years in evaluating safety systems for passenger trains. This effort resulted in the APTA's publication earlier this year of the Manual of Standards and Recommended Practices for Rail Passenger Equipment, and culminated in FRA's promulgation of safety regulations that now require dynamic testing of rail passenger seats for strength and occupant protection. Simula has assumed the lead role in the PRESS group for evaluating human-injury and occupant- protection issues in train crash scenarios.

Simula Technologies, Inc., an operating unit of Simula, Inc., will perform contractual work on the project at the Transportation Technology Center in evaluating the effect of seat strength, seat placement, restraint systems and shock-absorbent materials and systems on the levels of protection provided, for instance, for the passenger's head, neck and body extremities. Additional crash tests, which may be tasked to Simula in follow-on contracts, include multiple car collisions, oblique collisions and collisions between cab-car trains and locomotives.

Simula, Inc. is known worldwide for its crash survival expertise including aircraft, automobiles and military vehicles. The Company works extensively in this area with the Federal Aviation Administration and has current cooperative research agreements with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Army. Simula offers technology and engineering capabilities in designing and manufacturing occupant safety systems and devices for air, ground, and marine vehicles. The company operates four principal operating units that are aligned with its core technologies: research and development and testing; government and defense; commercial transportation seating; and automotive safety systems. Other technical disciplines of the company include advanced parachutes, personal survival equipment, crash sensors and advanced transparent polymer materials. Additional information about Simula can be found at its web site,

Simula, Inc.

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This file last updated: Saturday, 04-Sep-1999 08:49:14 EDT
Copyright © David Fry 1999

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