Improved safety standards have become a requisite
when bidding for international rail vehicle contracts, and a demonstrable
safety record is thought to be an important factor in stimulating
people to switch from private vehicles to more environmentally-friendly
Sorfame and partners have carried out an in-depth
review based on 52 rail vehicle accidents to determine specifications
for several types of materials to be used in the construction of
safer rail carriages.
Current thinking holds that impact energy in end-to-end collisions
should be absorbed by progressive and controlled deformation of
the bodywork, a principle already widely accepted in the automotive
industry. A variety of informatics tools were developed for simulating
impact effects on rail car structures and passengers. Static and
dynamic crush tests were also carried out.
Europe has taken a leading position in
the area of rail carriage safety and groups like Sorfame (stainless
steel), CAF (carbon steel) and GEC ALSTHOM (aluminium) have enjoyed
the benefits of increased co-operation and co-ordination within
the Brite-Euram framework. Solutions have already been applied in
railway systems in Hong Kong, the UK and Portugal.