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What mitigation technique should be implemented to reduce freight train derailments in Europe by 2050?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam


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The consequences of rail freight derailments can be severe and may result in different forms of costs including infrastructure; rolling stock; traffic disruptions; fatalities. There are many causes of derailments of which the current research analyses the following eight sets for long term cost-benefit analysis (CBA), as they are most important and severe causes for freight derailments, representing 55% of their total number in Europe: Hot axle box and axle journal rupture (set 1); Excessive track width (set 2); Wheel failure (set 3); Skew loading (set 4); Excessive track twist (set 5); Track height/ cant failure (set 6); Rail failures (set 7) and Spring and suspension failures (set 8). For each one of these causes, the following six sets of mitigation techniques were identified aiming at their alleviation: Hot box detectors; Track Geometry Measurement System; Dynamic axle load checkpoint; Wheel Profile and Diameter system; Laser based wear measurement: Rail profile measuring system; and Video Inspection of rail techniques: Track Head Inspection System, Track Inspection System and Track Surface Inspection System. The study finds that the highest cumulative costs are demonstrated for set 3 (wheel failure), with an impact of 10% in decreasing derailments, with more than 1.5 billion €; it also demonstrates the highest benefits with almost 4 billion € by 2050. The lowest cumulative costs, less than 400 million € each, are identified for sets 2 (excessive track width). The benefit to cost ratios, in most cases did not surpass 2.6. The most cost-efficient sets of interventions were set 1 (hot axle box and axle rupture cause) and set 8 (spring and suspension failure). For set 1, the impact on derailment number reaches 12%. For set 8 (spring and suspension failure), even though the impact is no more than 6% on the total derailments number, it is still very cost-efficient as it alleviates severe accidents that results in very high costs.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Laparidou K, Burgess A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Transport Research Arena 2014

Year of Conference: 2014