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Conducting A Full-Scale Experiment On A Rail Passenger Car

White, N. and Dowling, V.P., 2004. Conducting A Full-Scale Experiment On A Rail Passenger Car. AOFST 6


Fire safety design of rail vehicles and infrastructure such as tunnels requires development of design fires for scenarios of full carriage involvement. The current level of understanding of fire spread and growth with rail vehicles means that gross assumptions are made in estimating design fire sizes. As part of an ongoing research program, an experimental program involving a typical Australian urban passenger rail vehicle has been devised in order to test some of these assumptions and provide further insight into fire development and spread on trains. The objectives of this program are to investigate the fire size resulting from application of various ignition sources in a typical rail passenger vehicle and to develop an understanding of how a fire develops and spreads in rail passenger vehicles. Limitations of the experiments include availability of rail vehicles and internal materials, availability of a suitable test site and the time required to fully instrument and conduct the experiments. No existing tunnel or large enclosure was available for the experimental program, so the tests were carried out in the open air. Combustion products could not be collected for oxygen consumption calorimetry. Instead other methods had to be devised to measure fire growth. Thermocouples were placed at various points throughout the vehicle; radiometers were used to measure heat flux at various positions inside and outside the vehicle; and air flow and temperature probes were used in doors and windows to provide data relating to energy transfer by venting gases. In addition, gases were sampled within the vehicle, and video was used to monitor fire development, spread, smoke production and performance of vehicle components. Major internal materials will also be tested in the Cone Calorimeter In all, 10 experiments were performed. Nine of these were ignition experiments in a carriage, one end of which was fitted with typical interior materials. The final experiment was a fully developed fire where approximately half the vehicle was fitted with typical interior materials Data gathered from this program will be used to ? Determine the level of heat release and smoke production that must be designed for; ? assess the likelihood of various ignition sources resulting in fully developed fires; ? develop a CFD fire model of the train; ? investigate performance of components such as windows, seating, wall and ceiling linings and flooring; and ? suggest practical improvements to incorporate in rail vehicle fire safety design. Future experimental work in this program may involve oxygen consumption calorimetry.

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