The Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Office of Research, Development and Technology (RD&T) recently published four new technical reports that cover a variety of topics, including concrete crossties; the Operational Performance and Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability (RAM) Analysis (OPRAM) software tool; moving block train control systems; and vehicle dynamics simulations.
FRA’s Office of RD&T works to “improve transportation safety by conducting basic and applied research and developing solutions that address a variety of industry issues.” The list of newly released reports are available to download below. FRA’s RD&T program resources can be found in the FRA’s eLibrary, with links to specific categories on the RD&T webpage.
High-Strength, Reduced-Modulus, High-Performance Concrete for Prestressed Concrete Crosstie Applications
This report studies the use of high-strength, reduced modulus (HSRM) concrete in concrete railroad ties as an alternative to high-performance concrete (HPC) with early strength development. HPC is currently the material of choice for prestressed concrete railroad ties, but they are prone to premature cracking and deterioration. The study shows HSRM ties are a cost-effective alternative to the current industry standard concrete and can increase tie service life.
Vehicle Dynamics Models for Derailment Incident Investigation
For this study, Sharma & Associates, Inc. created railway freight car and track layout models and wheel and rail profiles using VAMPIRE, a vehicle dynamics simulation software, to see how the models might work in simulations used when investigating derailments. These models were found to be useful in derailment investigations when vehicle/track interaction is considered a possible cause of the incident. Researchers can also simulate a specific derailment using track data collected from a site during an investigation.
Office Safety Checker for Moving Block Train Control Systems
For this project, MxV Rail worked to create system engineering specifications for an Office Safety Checker (OSC) safety component, which is part of the Moving Block Office (MBO). Researchers created OSC documentation railroads can use in future development. According to the report, the OSC validates MBO and PTC Back Office Server (PTC-BOS) safety-critical functions, though it does not introduce functionality beyond what the MBO and PTC-BOS systems provide.
Operational Performance and Reliability, Availability, and Maintainability Analysis Model (OPRAM) Development
MxV Rail also conducted this research to develop the OPRAM tool, which helps railroads with decision making as far as when and where to deploy new methods of train control as defined in the Higher Reliability and Capacity Train Control (HRCTC) program. OPRAM is operated as a stand-alone application in a desktop environment and is easily installed.