Active safety elements focus upon accident prevention or crash avoidance. An active safety element that is critical during the integrating process is the effective training of personnel who operate and maintain rolling stock. FRA officials with the United States are concerned with enhanced technical proficiencies of maintenance mechanics and technicians, as are our European counterparts. This becomes a critical issue, particularly with the incorporation of advanced technologies into various car systems, propulsion, braking, trucks and suspension systems, train control, etc. Managers in the United States and nations throughout Europe want locomotives and cars to operate safely, with all systems functioning as designed once they leave the maintenance facility. Therefore, efforts are being undertaken on both sides of the Atlantic to improve training.
Active Safety - Cab Design
Cab design architecture is a critical active safety element when considering crash avoidance. EU and U.S. transportation officials are concerned about driver fatigue and its adverse effect upon safe train operation. This includes the effects of repetitive hand and foot motions, right-of-way visibility, eye strain and body posture. EU cab designers have studied the eye, hand and foot movements of locomotive drivers and have developed a control panel and seat arrangement that is ergonomically superior to past configurations. Within the EU, a new ergonomically designed modularized cab is being developed to comply with future safety standards. Simulator and real-life testing of this cab are being conducted to ensure that a highly functional, practical design incorporates safety and comfort. This includes the shape and design of cab interior operational elements, the functional grouping of controls, digital train controls that provide greater responsiveness during acceleration and braking modes, one-hand train operation, improved night visibility, seat height adjustments and new cab display technology.
Engineers in the United States have also looked at improved cab designs that reduce fatigue and protect the crew. These can be seen in the monocoque cab design that has been incorporated into new freight and passenger locomotives.
Passive safety is the safety system that works with no human intervention to mitigate the consequences of an accident, including injury and death.
Vehicle designs play a paramount role in the protection of the drivers of rail vehicles as well as passengers in the event of an accident. EU transportation specialists and rail vehicle engineers are working to include advanced occupant protection characteristics into the designs of locomotives and rail cars. These include the construction of rail vehicle driver cabs, passenger compartments, seats, tables, wind and other interior partitions, grab handles and poles, windows, doors — entrance and exit areas, and inter-car vestibules. Two primary variables being considered for the design of safer vehicles are crash energy management (CEM) and the utilization of biomechanics in the design of safer vehicle interiors. Similar activities are being undertaken within the United States.
Passive Safety — Crash Energy Management (CEM)
In the event that all active safety variables fail and there is a head-on collision between two trains, passive safety devices must be designed into rail vehicles to mitigate injuries to the train crew and passengers. EU rail car designers are presently working to incorporate CEM characteristics into present vehicles that are being rehabilitated and new future designs. At the testing facility in Pueblo, Colo., tests have also been conducted utilizing trains in actual crash scenarios. Utilizing data compiled in these tests, U.S. engineers are working to design safer rail vehicles. A primary example of incorporation of CEM into cab car and coach designs is the 87 rail car contract for Southern California's Metrolink System.