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Fire Safety of Passenger Trains. Phase 1: Material Evaluation (Cone Calorimeter) (NISTIR 6132)



Richard D. Peacock, E Braun


This report presents the results of Cone Calorimeter testing of selected materials from current passenger train systems. The test data from this test method were compared to FRA guideline test results. The Cone Calorimeter data was also tabulated to provide information necessary for future hazard analysis specific to passenger train vehicles. engineering correlaitons were developed to compare test results from the Cone Calorimeter and with the test methods in the FRA guidelines. Comparisons using these correlations were used to develop acceptace criteria for Cone Calorimeter testing equivalent to those recommended in the FRA guidelines. As part of the passenger equipment rulemaking required by Congress, the Federal Railroad Adminstration (FRA) has proposed that its existing fire safety guidelines be made mandatory. A major conclusion of a FRA-funded 1993 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was that the use of fire hazard assessment techniques, based on modeling and supported by measurement methods based on heat release rate (HRR), could provide a more credible and cost-effective means to predict real-world fire behavior of passenger train materials than the current approach. A comprehensive three-phase fire safety research program is being conducted by NIST under the sponsorship of the IRA Office of Research and Development to demonstrate the practicality and effectiveness of HRR-based test methods and hazard analysis techniques when applied to passenger train fire safety. The results of the research program will assist the FRA in determining appropriate fire safety requirements for the final passenger equipment rule. This document presents the Phase I results of the program which focused on the evaluation of passenger rail car interior materials using Cone Calorimeter test data. A summary of U.S. transportation agency requirements for various types of vehicles is also provided. An update of U.S. and European passenger train fire performance requirements and related research is included.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6132
Report Number


passenger trains, fire safety, cone calorimeters, fire models, test methods, fire tests, heat release rate, railroads, small scale fire tests, transportation


Peacock, R. and Braun, E. (1999), Fire Safety of Passenger Trains. Phase 1: Material Evaluation (Cone Calorimeter) (NISTIR 6132), NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 23, 2024)


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Created March 1, 1999, Updated November 10, 2018