Advanced Simulation Methodologies For Crashworthiness And Occupant Safety Assessment Of An Indian Railways Passenger Coach
Prabhune, Prajakta Vinayak
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Accidents involving passenger trains happen regularly in India. The reasons for such accidents could be many; such as weather and flooding, faulty tracks, bridge collapse, collisions caused by signaling errors, mechanical failures, driver error, sabotage etc. The annual accident-related deaths as a percentage of the total number of passengers carried by Indian Railway may seem to be negligible, but the aim should be to achieve zero fatality as every single person killed is an irreplaceable loss to his/her family. It needs to be mentioned that in addition to fatalities for which exact numbers are not available, serious injuries and permanent disabilities caused by train accidents in India at present stand completely unaccounted for. In the absence of a large scale renovation and crash avoidance measures coupled with the propensity to increase the number of trains every year, enhancing passive safety is crucial i.e. crashworthiness and occupant safety of passenger coaches of Indian trains. In the current work, crashworthiness and occupant safety of the existing typical three-tier cabin passenger coach of Indian Railway in an event of collision accident are assessed with the aid of a finite element analysis. In the light of the published work on research in railroad equipment crashworthiness, the current work is intended to envisage the methodology to assess the Indian Railway passenger coach from the point of view of the crashworthiness and occupant safety using CAE (Computer aided engineering) based approach. It is involved with an extensive study of the structural crush behavior of an individual passenger coach car and its effect on the interaction between occupants and the coach interior. Here the structural crush behavior of a typical three-tier cabin passenger coach is evaluated for the head-on impact against a fixed and rigid barrier. The occupant response for the same scenario is also studied which can be viewed as a component of the actual occupant response due to the structural crush behavior of the passenger coach. This can give useful estimates of injury severity and fatalities that may occur in actual accidents. An FE model of the passenger coach structure was built and validated using International Railway Union (UIC) specified code OR 567-design requirements in terms of static loads constituting structural proof cases. These proof cases specify the static load values the coach body structure should withstand without any permanent deformation or failure when applied at the specified locations on the structural ends across the longitudinal axis. In addition, a favorable correlation between the simulation and actual experiment for drop impact behavior of the open section specimens, namely C-section and I-section, was obtained to validate the simulation methodology. LS-DYNA a nonlinear dynamic explicit FE solver was used to carry out all the dynamic impact simulations involved in the current work. The material modeling takes into account the strain rate effect which is essential for the material impact behavior study. The contact modeling was done using penalty contact method. The degrading effect of the buffer on the structural crush patterns which induced the undesirable global bending and jackknifing of the whole coach structure was demonstrated with the help of dynamic impact simulations of the coach structure. The quantification of occupant injury was done by occupant safety simulations using the Hybrid III 50th percentile male dummy FE model. The dummy having been designed for simulating automobile accident scenarios, its contacts had to be adapted to suit the excessive mobility conditions in the coach interior. The dummy was revalidated successfully for the head drop test, pendulum chest impact test, neck flexion and extension test and knee impact test. Impact simulations for three different speeds were performed by positioning the dummy close to the impact point. Injury criteria such as Head Injury Criterion, Chest Deceleration, Knee force level and Neck extension-flexion moments were used to estimate the injury severity level and fatality rate.
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