Hitachi Rail and Rio Tinto have marked another significant AutoHaul™ milestone with the commissioning of an autonomous rail transport system for the new Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region. As part of the construction of the greenfield development, the 1,700 km long AutoHaul™ network was extended by an additional 166 km.
The AutoHaul™ system is the world's first fully automated rail system for long-distance heavy freight transport. It enables 220 trains, monitored remotely from an operations centre in Perth, to safely and efficiently across more than 1,866 kilometres of track from mines to ports without the need for onboard drivers.
Hitachi Rail provided the systems and software to connect the new section of the Gudai-Darri railway. This has included on-board 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. All systems and software are now successfully commissioned after initial trial testing.
“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,” said Roslyn Stuart, Hitachi Rail Australia Senior Director.
Rio Tinto operates the largest integrated portfolio of iron ore assets in the world. With the aim of achieving a zero net carbon emissions commitment, fully autonomous water trucks and autonomous training solutions will be used at the Gudai-Darri mine. Part of the power will come from a 34 MW photovoltaic solar power plant.
As a world leader in autonomous and signalling technology, Hitachi Rail has contracts elsewhere in Australia. It has recently started a major contract here to install innovative technology to automate elements of the Next Generation Railway (NGR) fleet in Queensland. The A$107 million contract will see the installation of Automatic Train Control Technology over European Train Control System Level 2 technology on all NGR trains.