Representative structural models of locomotives, other rail vehicles, and other potential colliding objects were combined into moving consists which were then subjected to various collision scenarios. The LS-DYNA dynamic finite-element modeling code was utilized to realistically simulate collisions and guide understanding and improvements of the locomotive structures. This incorporated the effects of the collision interactions, plus critical non-linear material and structural behavior, buckling, fracture, kinematics, and wayside interactions of the vehicles.
The types of collisions included: locomotive-headed consists striking standing consists obliquely fouling the Right Of Way, headed both by freight cars and other locomotives; locomotives striking loose, loaded intermodal containers dislodged from opposing cars on adjacent track. Work on multiple coupled locomotive overrides in direct consist collisions is now being conducted.
The effects of varying parameters such as collision speeds, location and orientation of the colliding vehicles, and structural improvements were explored and quantified. Also, the effects of some structural design modifications such as stronger collision posts and cab structure were evaluated using this process.
Verification studies to date have shown good correlation between the analytical simulations and observed outcome of actual historical accidents.