New crash simulation software launched for the rail industry

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

While every possible precaution is obviously taken to avoid crashes in the rail industry, an understanding of what happens should such an event occur is crucial during the design process. Only by accurately simulating the potential effects of a crash can safety be effectively ensured.

With this in mind, innovative new train crash simulation software has been launched that can help evaluate options for various energy absorption methods used in bolt on devices, including couplers, buffers, anti-climbers and other crush elements. Oleo 1D Rail, the groundbreaking new software has been developed by Coventry-based crash energy management (CEM) expert Oleo International and is being localised for overseas markets with the help of Midlands-based language expert Comtec Translations.

Oleo 1D Rail is used for investigating the sensitivity of a whole train CEM (Crash Energy Managementy) system for collision response and was launched in Shanghai, China at this year's CTRS rail transit show.

The software has flexible inputs to allow a specific train to be modelled and various collision scenarios simulated. Hydraulic units are then selected from a library of designs and characteristics of linear devices such as rubber, elastomer and deformation tubes.

Oleo has long been a leading expert in energy absorption technology, designing and manufacturing energy absorption solutions for the rail, elevator and industrial sectors – particularly for end stop solutions.

The software reflects the specific geometry accommodating the coupler, buffers and anti-climbers for each vehicle in the rake. Once the basic train and its energy management have been set up, it is possible to run various collision scenarios including train into terminal, train into stationary train, and train into moving train.    

All of the vehicles in the train are modelled as rigid bodies with a stiffness characteristic, while the hydraulic units are selected from a library of designs that can be customised and their specific dynamic behaviour verified by full size physical testing.

The characteristics of linear devices such as rubber, elastomer, deformation tubes, crush boxes and shear out mechanisms can be selected. Specific alternative characteristics can be entered.

The specific geometry accommodating the coupler, buffers and anti climbers can be reflected, along with their characteristics for each vehicle in the rake. The approximate crush behaviour of the ends can be entered as linear force versus distance data from separate detailed finite element analysis.

Once the basic train and its energy management setup have been modelled, then it is possible to run various collision scenarios. These scenarios include the possibility of the train going into terminal end stops with sliding or fixed end stop solutions; and train into train – whether moving train into stationary train (with and without brakes); or between moving trains at different speeds and directions.

The launch in Shanghai is far from being accidental, as China is a country with impressive levels of high-speed rail investment. In fact, China currently has close to 10,000km of rail investment reportedly in operation and plans in place to expand the network to 50,000km by 2020. Oleo already has a manufacturing base in China but has maximised its presence in the country with the launch of Oleo 1D Rail.

Research and development has taken this simulation software to the next level and is able to offer 2D and 3D modelling encompassing linear and non-linear dynamic analysis.

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