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Train Interior Passive Safety for Europe

Technological advances have led to a decrease in passenger rail fatalities in Europe during the last four decades (Eurostat). With the reduction of risks stemming from active safety and structural crashworthiness, the focus is now on the remaining areas of risk to access any remaining survivability measures.

Tags: Rail


This new interior passive safety framework will provide a systems approach to drastically reduce injuries and fatalities by combining and exploiting, in a cost-efficient and optimised manner, the already well-matured railway structural crashworthiness (closely linked with primary collision events) with injury biomechanics that are directly associated with secondary collisions.

There is still an ongoing major effort, to identify, formulate and implement proper solutions for safety issues in guided transportation systems. These include in general:

  • collision avoidance, where the main objective is to develop active safety systems to prevent the occurrence of accidents
  • accident survivability involving passive safety requirements for structural crashworthiness
  • vehicle interior solutions that contribute to the reduction of severity in terms of occupant injuries.

Train crash events can be basically divided into two phases:

  1. The primary collision, where the initial kinetic energy is progressively dissipated by means of plastic structural deformation. In this phase, occupant compartment integrity and acceptable vehicle acceleration levels (crash pulses) are the most important design requirements to be considered.
  2. The secondary collision, where the occupant will be subject to a great variety of potentially harmful occupant/interior or occupant/occupant contacts.


SAFEINTERIORS will appraise requirements and validation procedures and propose best practices for future standards, recommendations and regulations to improve the chances of survival in future catastrophic events. At the same time, it will explore the suitability of the proposed interior passive safety methodologies as applied in the retrofitting of existing rail vehicles, thus contributing to speeding up the introduction of improved passive safety levels in the railway sector.

The friendliness of the compartment interior is a major design issue and its treatment will complete the framework of railway passive safety. The purpose of the SAFEINTERIORS project is to provide the different railway stakeholders with a currently missing platform capable of assessing interoperability of all present and future interior rail vehicle layouts. The proposed framework will address design requirements and assess new interior solutions following advanced state-of-art interior designs, representative layouts, a range of suitable crash pulses, and new test and validation procedures suitable to the rail industry. The use of new materials will be fully exploited to improve the occupant/furniture contact characteristics and contribute towards lowering overall vehicle mass levels.

Description of work

The project is broken down into six work packages (WP).

WP1 is dedicated to the project management.

WP2 consists of defining a framework for the development of the rail vehicle interior passive safety, taking into account the advances provided by the recent projects and practices in the railway industry.

WP3 identifies key occupant postures in rail vehicles. From such postures, interior layout of rail vehicle and key types of injury of the rail vehicle occupants seen in the accident data determine trends of occupant kinematics, restraining objects and likely injuries that may be avoided by improved passive safety design.

WP4 is about defining a consistent and realistic set of functional specifications for the development of the advanced rail vehicle interior layouts.

WP5 concerns the identification of most relevant train interior layouts and components regarding potential hazards including their design, testing and concept validation, taking into account the injury assessment of accidents and any potential for improvements with respect train occupant interior safety

WP6 is devoted to a synthesis effort and the dissemination of the proejct results throughout the international rail community, through the applicable regulatory and standards agencies within the Member States and at European level.


1. Concept

A systematic statistical treatment of railway accidents and risk assessment including correlations of secondary collision events and corresponding levels of injury in the different body segments. New and relevant injury criteria for rail vehicle occupants based on biomechanical data obtained in more recent research work. There will be new and revised layouts.

2. Design

Establishment of guidelines for best practices in railway interior layouts. Discussing in depth trade-offs between safety requirements, ergonomics and non-safety related functionalities. A systematic approach to PRM issues will be obtained.

New design specifications for interior equipment, furniture and layouts including requirements for PRM with the aim of achieving cost-efficient, friendly interiors.

There will be new lightweight furniture designs with optimum energy absorption characteristics using new materials.

3. Test

New and advanced tests of interior layouts including new furniture and interior elements will be manufactured and physically tested to assess new designs and demonstrate their feasibility. There will be new measuring devices to reproduce the loading on the dummies and on the vehicle interior elements. Bio-fidelity of the devices will be demonstrated.

4. Validation

New test procedures and methods will be carried out, and a full validation programme involving correlation between experimental methods and computer model outputs.