World’s First Fully Automated Heavy-Haul Rail System Sees 10% Expansion

The world’s first fully automated heavy-haul rail system, AutoHaul™, in Australia has been expanded by 166km to connect the Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri iron ore mine to the existing network.

The AutoHaul™ network has gone from 1,700km to 1,866km as part of the greenfield mine development in Western Australia. The AutoHaul™ network enables 220 trains to run autonomously between mines and ports while being monitored from an operations centre in Perth. There is no onboard drivers though there are some to perform tasks such as last mile driving.

Rio Tinto AutoHaul in Pilbara
Rio Tinto AutoHaul in Pilbara

Hitachi Rail was the technical and delivery lead for the development of the AutoHaul™ project and provided the systems and software to connect the new section to the Gudai-Darri mine. These include onboard and control centre technology, trackside equipment, radio base stations and automatic train operation (ATO) interface software for locomotive control, level crossing safety and location tracking.

The systems and software have been successfully commissioned and are now operational.

Roslyn Stuart, Hitachi Rail Australia Senior Director, said: “The Gudai-Darri AutoHaul™ network expansion project is a natural extension of Hitachi Rail’s long-term collaboration to deliver innovative rail transport solutions for Rio Tinto. The project has seen Hitachi Rail and the Rio Tinto AutoHaul™ team deliver another ‘first’, with back-to-back loading (high performing automated train loading) to be introduced on the Gudai-Darri mine rail loop.


Rio Tinto iron ore
Rio Tinto iron ore

The AutoHaul™ network is used exclusively by Rio Tinto trains. The Gudai-Darri mine will run autonomous haul trucks, fully autonomous water trucks and autonomous training solutions. Some of its power will come from a 34MW solar plant.

Hitachi Rail has contracts elsewhere in Australia, such as with the New Generation Rail (NGR) fleet in Queensland. It has been contracted to supply its ETCS Level 2 system for all the NGR rolling stock.

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