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Rail Technology and Systems Information

Rail Technology and Systems Information

The FTA Rail Infrastructure Technology program examines innovative technology solutions and practices on issues that affect facility design and construction, vehicles, transit operations, program management, structures, and equipment.

The main program aims are to:

  • Provide more accurate cost estimates and design specifications for transit civil infrastructure improvements early in the project development cycle;
  • Utilize the University Transit Centers resources for applied research on promising technology developments that directly benefit transit agencies;
  • Provide improved planning and design methods and technology to transit development agencies to augment professional staff capabilities and experience;
  • Assess the Rail transit vehicle market in developing lower cost, crashworthy, vehicles that meet minimum standards;
  • Promote the integration of safety as a project consideration throughout the project development process;
  • Increase the numbers of engineers and planners with specific project development skills and experience;
  • Reduce the lead time associated with the planning and design of civil infrastructure projects;
  •  Provide improved project visualization and impact assessment methods to facilitate public understanding  and involvement in important public transportation infrastructure planning, and
  • Improve the productivity of, and reduce the costs associated with transit infrastructure project development.

Crash Energy Management for Passenger Rail Equipment

The American Public Transportation Association, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and Metrolink cooperated to develop a purchase specification for commuter rail cab cars equipped with crash energy management features.

Crash Energy Management has been defined as a strategy for improved occupant survivability during a collision. Designs using this strategy include sacrificial crush zones at the ends of the cars and other unoccupied spaces.

A team of Volpe Center engineers has documented the development of rail equipment crashworthiness research in several technical papers found at Volpe Center: Structures and Dynamics Division.