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Project title

Improving the design of seats and tables to minimise passenger injuries (T201)

  • Project number:

  • Topic:

    Rolling Stock
  • Status:


Project Summary

This project looked at seats and tables and the use of seat belts to investigate how rail vehicle interior design may be improved to minimise injury in an accident.

Project Abstract

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This research aimed to identify improvements to seat and table design to minimise injuries in an accident. The research led to the development of an anthropomorphic testing device (ATD - crash test dummy) specifically for the rail environment. The ATD was then used to evaluate the benefits of two-point lap belts (as used in commercial aviation) and three-point, lap and diagonal belts (as used in cars). Accident analysis, sled testing, and computer modelling concluded that neither type of seat belt should be used in rail vehicles. Two-point seat belts would usually increase passenger injuries in a crash, and while three-point seat belts could reduce injury to restrained passengers, they require the strengthening of seat backs which would increase injuries to unrestrained passengers. Seat belts also prevent passengers being thrown clear of structural damage.  The investigation suggested that for every life that may have been saved by fitting seat belts eight lives may have been lost due to major structural collapse. Current crashworthy seats, that are designed to absorb energy in accidents, thus reducing injury to passengers, should be retained.
The crashworthy table design concept work studied accidents establishing that crashworthy table designs could provide benefits.
Analysis showed that while a significant proportion of injuries were caused by interaction between passengers and tables the proportion of severe injuries from tables was small.
 A concept crashworthy table design with a self rotating leaf was developed and modelled.  The principle of the concept is that the table leaves will self-rotate when a force is applied that is equivalent to the AV/ST9001 crash pulse used to assess vehicle interiors.  The passenger would impact a broader surface reducing the intrusion to the abdomen that would be encountered with a narrower table edge during an accident.
The modelling concluded that a rotating leaf table design with a rotating section of 150 mm was optimal in terms of predicted injury levels. These results will be shared with the EU SafeInteriors project and a cost-benefit analysis will be undertaken to establish the value of fitting a crashworthy table to a modern fleet during build.

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