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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

FRA Vehicle-Track Simulation Software Workshop

Up-close photo of train wheels on a track.


Vehicle-track interaction (VTI) modeling is critical for reducing railroad derailments and improving safety. It is used to design and qualify rail vehicles, develop track geometry regulations, and find the root causes of derailments. Advanced computer software is a necessary tool for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and industry to perform these tasks.

On June 30 to July 1, 2015, FRA held a best practices workshop on VTI simulation at Volpe in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The two-day workshop was attended by representatives from the government, code developers, researchers, academia, and the rail industry. The goal of the Vehicle‐Track Simulation Software Workshop was to assess and identify development needs to advance the state‐of‐the‐art of vehicle‐track simulation software packages.

Workshop Agenda and Presentations

Introduction and meeting objectives - John Tunna

Session I: Presentations on leading commercial software tools

Session II: Selected Modeling Challenges

Research Needs

The following list of research needs was generated by participants during the working session of this workshop.

  1. Model validation
  2. Modeling benchmarks
  3. Track modeling
  4. Modeling conformal wheel-rail contact
  5. Modeling of friction suspension elements
  6. Modeling wheel-rail friction modifiers
  7. Modeling 3-dimensional wheel-rail contact geometry
  8. Improved coil spring model
  9. Modeling changes in rail profile
  10. Modeling rail joints
  11. Improved air spring model
  12. Design of experiments and model parametrization
  13. Modeling interactions between adjacent cars
  14. Parallel coding
  15. Modeling advanced suspension elements
  16. Modeling wheel flats and out-of-round wheels
  17. Parameter identification algorithms

Next Steps

A report containing further details on the workshop is currently under FRA review. In addition, FRA is soliciting proposals on several research needs identified during the workshop. Proposals for this first round of research needs are due by May 6, 2016. Information is available in FRA’s Broad Agency Announcement.

Workshop Date and Location

June 30 – July 1, 2015
Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center
55 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142

Last updated: Thursday, March 31, 2016