Rio Tinto launches world’s first automated heavy-haul rail network

Rio Tinto has officially launched its $940 million AutoHaul program in Western Australia, with technology partner Hitachi.

AutoHaul is the world’s first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network, referred to by WA Mines Minister Bill Johnston as the world’s biggest robot.

The 2.4 kilometre long trains have begun travelling autonomously on 1700 kilometres of track, delivering iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert.

Mr. Johnston said the AutoHaul project is an example of the strength of Western Australia’s resources industry.

“I’d like to congratulate Rio Tinto, Hitachi and all the other project partners for their hard work and dedication over the past decade to delivering this project, which really cements our state as a global leader in rail technology,” Mr. Johnston said.

“I’d also like to mention that the development of AutoHaul is such a success because of the contribution from Western Australia’s skilled engineers and innovative workers.”

Hitachi Rail STS APAC Business Unit President Michele Fracchiolla said Hitachi was extremely proud of the lead technical and delivery role it played in enabling the operation.

“Now that the trains are running autonomously, the levels of continuous improvement that can be achieved in safety, operational efficiency and sustainability are endless,” Mr. Fracchiolla said.

“We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Rio Tinto to enhance the AutoHaul system.”

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