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Application of Composites in Rail Vehicles

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark RobinsonORCiD


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This chapter shows that composites materials are a serious consideration for rail vehicles as they provide the designer with opportunity to flexibly integrate a number of features within the design. The use of composites in components and structures can also reduce weight and count part count, simplify manufacturing by reducing joining and as the same time retain the mechanical performance required. In rail vehicle rolling stock the general trend is increasing weight of vehicles this can be reversed with the considered use of composite materials.Materials for rail applications are discussed with particularly with reference to lightweighting and crashworthiness. The use of composites in rail vehicles is mainly restricted to components with complex three dimensional profiles such as rail vehicle cabs, seats and other internal fittings. The use of lightweight sandwich panels is increasing as designers attempt to realise the energy saving potential of lightweight vehicles. Crashworthiness is an important issue in the transport sector and considerable interest has been shown in the use of composites to absorb energy in impact situations. Composites can exhibit better any absorption capabilities in comparison to metals on a weight-for-weight basis. One issue slowing the application of composites in the rail sector is the certification of composites. The approach to this problem is proposed and related the latest European crashworthiness standards.Case studies are provided which relate to crashworthy bodyshells and vehicle end structures (cabs). These case studies show the tremendous challenges that composites face to be further implemented in the future. Nevertheless the benefits that can be gained in terms of design flexibility, lightweighting, energy savings, manufacturing, etc. are enormous. The level of composites research within the rail sector confirms that there is an optimistic future for them and this is supported by the metal replacement opportunities. This chapter shows the range of composite materials used routinely in rail vehicles and highlight several initiatives for the future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson M

Editor(s): Saleem Hashmi (editor-in-chief)

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Reference Module in Materials Science and Materials Engineering

Year: 2016

Pages: 1-34

Online publication date: 18/03/2016

Acceptance date: 03/11/2015

Publisher: Elsevier

Place Published: Oxford


DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-803581-8.03965-5

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780128035818