Rio Tinto AutoHaul trains establish WA as ‘global leader’ for rail technology

Mining major Rio Tinto has joined the Western Australia Government and technology partner Hitachi Rail STS to celebrate the successful rollout of its AutoHaul autonomous freight rail network.

The project, which has been in the making for over 10 years since the launch of Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future initiative in 2008, is formally considered the world’s first automated heavy-haul long distance rail network, and delivering its first iron ore in July 2018. The driverless train system has also been informally referred to by Rio Tinto itself as the “world’s largest robot”.

The 2.4 kilometre-long trains, which are monitored and controlled from Rio Tinto’s Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth, deliver iron ore from 16 mines to ports in Dampier and Cape Lambert across a 1,700-kilometre network. In total, the trains have now travelled over 4.5 million kilometres collectively since their first deployment last year.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director Ivan Vella said that the project had attracted worldwide interest and cemented Western Australia as a heavy-haul rail leader.

“The success of AutoHaul would not have been possible without the expertise, collaboration and dedication of teams within Rio Tinto and our numerous partners,” said Vella.

WA Minister for Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston also congratulated Rio Tinto, Hitachi and other partners on the project (which includes companies such as New York Air Brake and Wabtec) for their dedication to delivering AutoHaul.

AutoHaul has brought the rail freight industry in this country into the 21st century and is rightfully the subject of global interest,” Johnston said. “I’d also like to mention that the development of the world’s biggest robot is such a success because of the contribution from Western Australia’s skilled engineers and innovative workers.”

Rio deems AutoHaul deployed on Pilbara network

Mining giant Rio Tinto says its AutoHaul autonomous train project is now fully deployed in WA’s Pilbara region.

The company has for some time been working on making its mine-to-port iron ore railway fully autonomous, and made great strides in 2018 with the first loaded journey made in July.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore managing director of rail, port and core services Ivan Vella said with more than 1 million kilometres now travelled autonomously, AutoHaul had demonstrated it could move product in a controlled and safe manner.

“The safe and successful deployment of AutoHaul across our network is a strong reflection of the pioneering spirit inside Rio Tinto,” Vella said. “It’s been a challenging journey to automate a rail network fo this size and scale in a remote location like the Pilbara.”

Rio says it will continue to refine AutoHaul operations in coming months.

AutoHaul moving almost half of Rio’s iron ore

Rio Tinto is averaging 34 autonomous trains every day on its Pilbara network, and AutoHaul trains now make up 45 percent of daily rail kilometres for the miner’s iron ore operations.

Rio revealed the figures in its September quarterly report, released on October 16.

“The automation of the Pilbara train system (AutoHaul) is in ramp-up, with a steady increase in the number of trains in autonomous mode over the third quarter,” the miner told the ASX.

“Autonomous mode operations have increased to an average of 34 trains per day, equating to 290,000 kilometres (or 45 percent of daily kilometres) completed in this mode.”

The ramp-up is significant, considering the first AutoHaul train ran in mid-July.

Rio said it expects to fully implement the AutoHaul program by the end of 2018.

The mining company’s Pilbara iron ore operation produced 82.5 million tonnes in the third quarter, down 3 percent year-on-year and 3 percent compared to quarter two.

Rio said the production dip was due to “planned maintenance cycles,” as well as safety pauses across the entire operation after a truck operator was fatally injured at the Paraburdoo mine on August 15.

Rio runs first AutoHaul train

Rio Tinto has reported the first official delivery of iron ore by an autonomous train in the Pilbara region, with the landmark operation taking place midway through last week.

An autonomous train, comprising three locomotives hauling roughly 28,000 tonnes of iron ore, travelled more than 280 kilometres from Rio’s Tom Price hub to export facilities at Cape Lambert on July 10, 2018, the company said on Friday.

The train was monitored remotely by operators in Rio’s Operations Centre more than 1,500 kilometres away in Perth.

This follows the AutoHaul program’s approval from regulatory authorities, including the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, in May this year.

“This programme symbolises both the pioneering spirit and innovative talents of many people across Rio Tinto and shows our absolute commitment to improving safety and productivity,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s managing director for Rail, Port & Core Services Ivan Vella said.

“We will continue to ensure our autonomous trains operate safely under the wide range of conditions we experience in the Pilbara, where we record more than eight million kilometres of train travel each year.”

Vella said Rio would continue to “work closely” with drivers, who will be prepared “for new ways of working as a result of automation”.

AutoHaul is a $940 million program directed by Rio, with the final goal of fully automating its train services to and from port facilities on WA’s north-west coastline. Rio currently operates roughly 200 locomotives on more than 1,700 kilometres of track.

The average round trip for Rio’s trains covers about 800 kilometres, including loading and dumping, and takes around 40 hours.

Under the new program, locomotives carry the AutoHaul software and are fitted with on-board cameras for constant monitoring. All public crossings on the network are fitted with CCTV cameras and have been upgraded “to the highest safety standards,” Rio said.

Rio Tinto train - Photo Rio Tinto

Rio’s AutoHaul set to be operational in 2018

Rio Tinto expects its iron ore operation’s AutoHaul autonomous rail program to be fully commissioned by the end of 2018, as part of its continued efforts to remove the bottlenecks presented by its rail network to its mining and export operation.

Chris Salisbury, Rio’s iron ore boss, told reporters on June 18 the miner expects to spend roughly $2.2 billion on replacement mines over the next three years.

“We have an extensive pipeline of future development options,” Salisbury said. “In 2018, our 700 kilometre drilling programme will provide both ongoing reserve replenishment and significant optionality to optimise operations.”

But Salisbury said Rio was not only focused on maintaining high volumes, it was focused on exporting those volumes as efficiently as possible.

“Our strategy is to optimise our Pilbara assets to deliver value for our shareholders,” he said.

“Our pioneering autonomous rail project, AutoHaul, is on schedule to be implemented by the end of the year, and is already delivering benefits to the business through an uplift in rail capacity.

“Removing our bottleneck in rail and increasing flexibility remain a key priority. This work is progressing well and rail and mine capacity should be in line with nameplate port capacity by the end of 2019.”

The first of Rio’s major capacity replacement projects, Koodaideri, is progressing through the feasibility study phase, Salisbury said. Koodaideri would be the first of three major capacity replacement projects for Rio Tinto in its WA iron ore business.

The board of Rio’s major iron ore contemporary, BHP, last week approved the $4.49 billion development of its South Flank project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

BHP said last week it is targeting 80 million tonnes of annual production from the South Flank project, which is largely expected to replace output from the aging Yandi mine. South Flank will extend BHP’s existing infrastructure at its Mining Area C site.

The BHP project will construct an 80 million tonne per annum crushing and screening plant, an overland conveyor system, and stockyard and train loading facilities. Product from South Flank will increase BHP’s Pilbara operation’s average iron grade from 61% to 62%, and will boost the overall proportion of lump from 25% to around 35%.

BHP’s move followed an announcement by Fortescue last month, for plans to spend $1.5 billion building 30 million tonnes per annum of new mining, processing and rail infrastructure.

Rio AutoHaul gathering steam

Rio Tinto is set to be running its full 200-locomotive Pilbara train fleet without drivers by the end of 2018, according to an interview this week with the miner’s head of growth and innovation, Stephen McIntosh.

McIntosh, who spoke with The Australian this week, said the company’s AutoHaul team was ironing out some of the final issues with the software that helps conduct driverless trains in Rio’s iron ore supply chain.

“We continue to build up momentum,” McIntosh was quoted as saying. “It’s a very substantial fleet of trains, so it’s very important to make sure we’ve implemented every single thing and every single train through the iterations and versions [of AutoHaul].”

AutoHaul was first announced in 2008, at the peak of the mining boom. It was put on hold during the GFC, but revived in 2012, with a half-billion-dollar budget, and a targeted starting date of 2015.

Technical and practical complications have delayed the project, but a further injection of $250 million in 2018 – as part of Rio’s plans for a 360 million tonne per annum capacity – looks to have the project as close to reality as ever.

Rio ran its first fully autonomous train on a nearly 100-kilometre pilot run from Wombat Junction to Paraburdoo in October 2017.

It has been using AutoHaul for some time in a limited capacity – with around 32% of rail kilometres performed in autonomous mode – with drivers on board – on Rio’s Pilbara network last year.

“Gains from AutoHaul are already being realised, helping to reduce average cycle times,” Rio iron ore boss Chris Salisbury said in October last year.

“Rio Tinto is proud to be a leader in innovation and autonomous technology in the global mining industry which is delivering long-term competitive advantages as we build the mines of the future.”

Rio Tinto train - Photo Rio Tinto

Rio to spend big on rail productivity

Rio Tinto will spend $263 million to boost its rail capacity to 360 million tonnes, with iron ore boss Chris Salisbury highlighting the miner’s Pilbara rail network as “a bottleneck” in the company’s operation.

Speaking at an investor presentation in Sydney this week, Salisbury said the company’s port capacity was ready for Rio’s Silvergrass operations to ramp up to 360mtpa, but rail capacity remained capped at 330mtpa.

“We are intensely focused on optimising our full system infrastructure: 360mtpa nameplate, with flex either side of that, dependent on the value proposition,” Salisbury said.

“The rampup of Silvergrass, plus mine and productivity creep, enables mine capacity of around 360mta, with a similar nameplate for our four ports.

“We have been rail-constrained for much of this year, a bottleneck we need to eliminate completely. While 2017 maintenance work has reduced some restrictions, ongoing work is required in 2018 to improve overall asset condition and prepare for future optimum productivity, including the increased tonnes from AutoHaul and other productivity measures.”

Rio’s aim is to boost rail capacity to be higher than that of its port and mines, to provide the system with the “sprint capacity” it needs to take advantage of market swings.

With that in mind, Salisbury said the miner plans around US$200 million in capital expenditure, in 2018 alone, to boost rail productivity.

AutoHaul – Rio’s ongoing driverless train development program – will improve productivity by eliminating train stoppages for driver changeover, while also reducing train spacing to a target of below 10 kilometres between trains – down from the current rate of around 16 kilometres.

“As we test the need for more trains and extra volume per car, we are refocusing our maintenance campaign,” Salisbury continued. “This includes, for example, better predictive ability from instrumented ore-cars and track-monitoring equipment and adding more efficient integrated track machines to our maintenance fleet.”

Salisbury also noted Rio plans to eliminate brake cars – which are attached to the train during dumping to maintain dumping pressure – and replace them with locomotives, to reduce shunting in the miner’s yards and improve cycle times.

Rio’s first unmanned train a big step towards 360mtpa

Mining giant Rio Tinto’s first unmanned train as part of its AutoHaul program is a major step towards its goal of exporting 360 million tonnes of iron ore per annum from its Pilbara mine, rail and port network.

The ASX-listed miner completed its first fully autonomous rail journey, with a nearly 100-kilometre pilot run taking place without a driver on board, early this month. The train travelled, unmanned, from Wombat Junction to Paraburdoo.

The journey followed ongoing partial use of the AutoHaul technology across the network, which saw around 32% of rail kilometres performed in autonomous mode – with drivers on board – on Rio’s networks in the first half of 2017.

Rio says the driverless train technology and its associated infrastructure now ‘enhances’ 80% of its production tonnes, with early benefits including reduced variability and increased speed, as well as reduced in-train forces benefiting maintenance costs.

Fully driverless trains will also save an extra hour per average cycle, Rio says, thanks to fewer train stoppages for driver changes.

“This successful pilot run puts us firmly on track to meet our goal of operating the world’s first fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance rail network, which will unlock significant safety and productivity benefits for the business,” Rio’s iron ore boss Chris Salisbury said.

“Gains from AutoHaul are already being realised … helping to reduce average cycle times. Rio Tinto is proud to be a leader in innovation and autonomous technology in the global mining industry which is delivering long-term competitive advantages as we build the mines of the future.”

Rio has invested millions over the last several years in its Mine of the Future program, which includes AutoHaul as one of its key projects. However, AutoHaul’s development has been slowed by technical issues.

Rio now believes it can fully commission AutoHaul by late 2018 – later than the miner had originally hoped.

Struggles during the commissioning of Rio’s driverless trains already cost it its target of 350 million tonnes of Pilbara production in 2016. Now the miner is on track for 330 million tonnes in 2017, and says the AutoHaul development should help it finally reach its long-term target of 360.

Also contributing to the 360mtpa target will be a ramp up in capacity from the Silvergrass mine, and other port and network upgrades.

Rio exports its iron ore from the Port of Dampier, which has publicly-listed trade figures, and Cape Lambert, which does not.

Based on the public figures, it can be roughly estimated that 130 million tonnes of Rio’s iron ore will be exported from Dampier in the 2017 calendar year, while around 200 million tonnes will be sent from Cape Lambert.

If the miner’s growth target of 360mtpa is spread evenly across the two sites, Dampier will be exporting around 142mtpa of Rio’s iron ore, while Cape Lambert will handle 218mtpa.

Rio’s autonomous trains nearing the station?

A delayed bid by Rio Tinto to have around 40 autonomous trains operating on its Pilbara railway could finally be nearing fruition, with comments from the miner’s rail technology contractor suggesting a potential resolution to challenges facing the project.

Spain-based railway signalling firm Ansaldo STS, which is part of Hitachi, is a key part of Rio’s half-billion-dollar AutoHaul program.

Rio planned to have AutoHaul installed by late 2015, but has been bugged by software issues.

On a conference call this week, Ansaldo’s chief executive Andy Barr, reportedly said a major Australian contract was nearing its close.

Without naming Rio Tinto, Barr reportedly told reporters, “We are now in the end phase with a couple of important contracts in Australia that delivered a lot of revenues in the previous year”.

In its most recent interim financial report, Ansaldo said AutoHaul was one of its main focuses in Australia.

Rio Tinto train - Photo Rio Tinto

Rio delays rail automation, cuts iron ore guidance

Mining giant Rio Tinto is experiencing delays in its automated rail scheme in the Pilbara, and has cut into its iron ore export guidance as a result.

Part of Rio’s Mine of the Future program, AutoHaul is an initiative to create a fully-autonomous heavy haul, long distance railway system to move hundreds of millions of tonnes of iron ore from mine to port in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Rio fitted trains with AutoHaul for testing throughout 2015. The miner has said 2016 will see the system reach full functionality, so it can be put through the regulatory approvals process prior to official integration into operations.

But the AutoHaul rollout has been delayed, the miner announced on Tuesday.

“Testing and verification of AutoHaul is continuing, with over 75,000 kilometres of mainline trials competed,” Rio said, “however, some delays are being experienced.”

The miner didn’t go into specifics, but said the delays would impact production in 2017.

Rio updated its Pilbara iron ore guidance to be between 330 and 340 million tonnes in 2017, down from 350 million tonnes.

It did not adjust its global outlook for 2016, of 350 million tonnes of iron ore production on a 100% ownership basis.

This forecast was based on a solid first quarter, where the miner exported 80.8 million tonnes of iron ore from its operations in the Pilbara and Canada, up 17% compared to the first quarter of 2015.

Elsewhere, aluminium production was up 10% year-on-year to 887,000 tonnes in the quarter, and bauxite was up 13% to 11.01 million tonnes.

Chief executive Sam Walsh said the result demonstrated the miner’s commitment to operational excellence.

“However, we continue to experience volatility in commodity prices across all markets,” he conceded.

“In the face of a testing external environment, our focus remains on delivering further cost and productivity improvements, disciplined capital management and maximising free cash flow, to ensure that Rio Tinto remains strong.”

Rio’s iron ore outlook cut for 2017 comes a week after rival Fortescue Metals Group said it was running ahead of schedule for iron ore exports in the 2015/16 financial year, thanks to kind conditions for exports at Port Hedland during the March quarter.

FMG exported 42 million tonnes of iron ore in the March quarter 2016, up 4% year-on-year.

Truss, Albanese to headline AusRAIL 2014

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Minister for infrastructure and regional development Warren Truss, and shadow minister for transport and infrastructure Anthony Albanese, will join ARA chief executive Bryan Nye and chairman John Fullerton as speakers at AusRAIL 2014 in Perth. </span> <p>AusRAIL, which took place in Sydney last year, heads to Perth for its 2014 instalment, which will take place at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from 11-12 November.</p><p>Nye, Fullerton and Truss will headline the opening session (Truss’ appearance is subject to final confirmation) on day one.</p><p>A Q&ampA session on day one will include management from Thiess, Laing O’Rourke, Downer Infrastructure, Lend Lease, McConnel Dowell and Leighton Contractors.</p><p>Albanese will headline day two of the conference, delivering his opposition address on the morning following Truss’ government address.</p><p>The conference’s second day will include an innovation talk from Rio Tinto’s general manager of AutoHaul, Simon Prebble, along with the always popular and eventful CEO Forum, which this year is scheduled to feature:</p><ul><li>Rob Mason, CEO, NSW Trains</li><li>John Fullerton, CEO, Australian Rail Track Corporation</li><li>Clement Michel, CEO, Yarra Trams</li><li>Graham Sibery, Executive Director, Rail Operations and Safety, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, SA</li><li>Greg Pauline, Managing Director, Genesee &amp Wyoming</li><li>Mark Burgess, Managing Director, PTA WA</li><li>Terry Scott, Managing Director, Transdev Auckland</li><li>Vivienne King, Managing Director, KDR Gold Coast</li><li>John McArthur, Managing Director, Freightliner Australia</li><li>Howard Collins, CEO, Sydney Trains</li><li>Andrew Lezala, CEO, Metro Trains Melbourne</li><li>Paul Larsen, CEO, Brookfield Rail</li><li>Peter Reidy, CEO, KiwiRail</li><li>Geoff Smith, Managing Director, SCT Logistics</li></ul><p>More information and full schedule: <a href=""></a></p>

Ansaldo wins Rio Tinto automation contract

With technology supplied by Ansaldo, Rio Tinto’s AutoHaul&trade automated heavy haul railway, to be completed in 2015, will be the first of its kind in the world and will significantly enhance the flexibility and capacity of Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s rail network.

The highly-specialised modular signalling solution developed and to be implemented by Ansaldo includes the introduction of a centralised Vital Safety Server for the safe and flexible management of train movements and an on-board driving module which enables the complete automation of the trains’ operation.

Additional features of the Ansaldo solution include complete reuse of wayside infrastructure and no disruption to train operations during deployment.

This significant contract is the latest in a series of heavy haul rail projects awarded to Ansaldo under a five-year framework agreement to support Rio Tinto’s ongoing expansion in the Pilbara.

The Rio Tinto Iron Ore – Ansaldo STS Framework Agreement (RAFA) was established in November 2010 under which Ansaldo is to deliver signalling, communications, train control and automation systems to Rio Tinto on demand.

Earlier this year Ansaldo was awarded a $151m turnkey contract to deliver a railway signalling and telecommunications system, using satellite positioning, for the Roy Hill Iron Ore project’s in north-west Western Australia


News in Brief ‘ 11-18 April 2012

Rising passenger patronage for China
China’s railways reportedly transported 453.25 million passengers during the first quarter of the year, up 0.7% from the previous period. The railways delivered a reported 998.61 million tonnes of freight during the first quarter period for 2012, up 3.2% from the previous period. According to a report posted on the railways ministry’s website, the Ministry has prioritised the delivery of major essential goods to meet the demand of industrial production and the people’s basic needs.

Works begin on VIC’s $60m Hurstbridge line upgrade
Main works are set to begin shortly on the Hurstbridge line upgrade project with the construction contract awarded to Abigroup.
Minister for public transport Terry Mulder said the $60.8m upgrade will improve the reliability and efficiency of the Hurstbridge line.
“The project includes the addition of two new stabling tracks at the Eltham stabling yard and a signalling upgrade between Greensborough and Hurstbridge,” Mulder said.
“Currently, trains operating on the Hurstbridge line are stabled on the Epping line and in Melbourne.
“Adding two new stabling tracks at Eltham will mean fewer trains will have to be transferred from other lines to travel on the Hurstbridge line.
“The upgrade to automatic signalling between Greensborough and Hurstbridge railway stations will enable more than one train to travel in the same direction along the single line track.”
The Hurstbridge line upgrade project will involve:

  • Reconfiguring the Eltham stabling yards to add two extra tracks, bringing the total to five
  • Upgrading 15 kilometres of signalling between Greensborough and Hurstbridge railway stations
  • Building a new section of track north of the Diamond Street level crossing to allow trains to enter and exit the stabling yard independently of the main rail line
  • Constructing a new substation at Sherbourne Road in Montmorency to provide additional power supply to support the new infrastructure on the Hurstbridge line
  • Modifying the car park on Youth Road to provide facilities for rail staff, while retaining the same number of car parking spaces for rail passengers
  • Improving the visual amenity of Eltham railway station with landscaping and fencing
  • Establishing a heritage exhibit near Eltham railway station to display the historical manual signalling equipment.
    The Hurstbridge line upgrade project is scheduled for completion in 2013.
    The project is being delivered by Metro Trains Melbourne on behalf of the Department of Transport.

UGL wins $370m worth of contracts
UGL has won a series of key projects in Australia’s resources sector worth $370m.
More than $270m of the new projects are in the mining sector, including provision of the rail signalling and communications system for Fortescue Metals Group’s&nbsp Solomon rail spur in Western Australia and construction of the new Solomon mine power station.

Other contract wins included a two-year contract with Rio Tinto for maintenance services at the Hail Creek mine in Queensland, a new three-year contract to provide maintenance services at the Queensland Gregory Crinum mine for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance’s coal operations, an upgrade of the Sydney West to Holroyd transmission line for TransGrid in NSW and work on a number of new power systems and power transmission projects in Queensland.

Rio’s Pilbara expansion
The expansion of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations to 283 million tonnes per annum (mpta) by the end of 2013 remains on track. On 8 February 2012, Rio committed a further $1.2bn (Rio Tinto share $700m) for Cape Lambert port and rail early works needed for the proposed capacity expansion to 353 mtpa. The 353 mtpa expansion is in final feasibility study, with a final investment decision expected later this year.

On 20 February 2012, Rio Tinto announced a $518m (Rio Tinto share US$478 million) investment in autonomous trains for the Pilbara rail network. The first driverless train will be launched in 2014, with the AutoHaul automated train programme scheduled for completion a year later.

Rio Tinto’s integrated operations will be progressively upgraded as follows:
&bull 230 mpta – current operating capacity
&bull 283 mtpa by end of 2013 – Cape Lambert 53 Mt/a increment (in implementation)
&bull 353 mtpa by end of H1 2015 – Cape Lambert 70 Mt/a increment (in feasibility)

RISSB update
RDS7663 Signal Cables &amp RDS7664 Cable Routes
The draft Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISS) standards RDS 7663 – Signal Cables and RDS 7664 – Cable Routes have been released for their second open public consultation.

  • Draft RDS 7663 – Signal Cables

This standard sets out the minimum requirements for railway signalling cables to minimise the risk of asset failures and of harm to personnel working with, or in the vicinity of, railway signalling cables. It will Identify the risks (hazards) being controlled, ensure that cables of an appropriate standard are utilised and support a consistent approach in the use of Signalling Cables, enabling common cables to be used across state boundaries.

  • Draft RDS 7664 – Cable Routes

This standard sets out the minimum requirements for railway signalling cable routes, cable pits and for foundations at signals, gantries, location cases, equipment rooms, telephones and ground frames. The purpose is to minimise the risk of asset failures and to minimise harm to personnel working with, or in the vicinity of, railway signalling cable routes and trackside infrastructure when working out with the rail danger zone.

How to contribute?
Stakeholders are invited to submit comments on the two Drafts. They are available for download from the RISSB website:
Draft RDS 7663 – Signal Cables
Draft RDS 7664 – Cable Routes

Comments on the draft standards can be submitted via the RISSB website on the spreadsheet provided. For further information please contact Laurie Wilson on 02 6270 4520 or
The closing date for comments is 09 May 2012.

Safety Data Guideline
Please be aware that the open consultation for the 1st draft of the Safety Data Guideline is ending on the 13th of April 2012.
Both the draft and the comment form are available on the RISSB website for download:

All enquiries can be directed to Julien Marechal, RISSB Manager – Special Projects, at the following address:

AS7659 Type Approval Standard
The draft RISSB AS7659 Type Approval Standard has been released for its first open public consultation.

This draft standard is intended to describe the process of type approval of rail-related equipment. It is intended to be supported by other RISSB documents such as the future Code of Practice for Type Approval of Rail Signaling Equipment, and the future RISSB Rollingstock Certification Standard.

The intent is that this draft standard describes the high-level process of type approval, whereas the supporting documents will provide the detail as to how that process is instantiated for various rail systems.

How to contribute?
Stakeholders are now invited to submit comments on the draft, and it is now available for download from the RISSB website:
Any comments on the draft can be submitted using the spreadsheet provided on the RISSB website or by emailing Alex Borodin, Manager Safety and Systems at

Closing date for comments is Friday 11 May 2012 . Comments must be submitted electronically via the RISSB website by inserting them in the draft standard spreadsheet. Contact details for commentators must also be supplied.

Rio announces world’s first driverless train

The first driverless train will be launched in 2014, with Rio’s AutoHaul automated train program scheduled for completion a year later.

AutoHaul is being pioneered as part of the automation component of Rio Tinto’s “Mine of the Future” initiative that also includes driverless trucks and autonomous drills.

Rio said automating train operations allows the company to expand its Pilbara production capacity without needing to make a substantial investment in additional trains. Rio currently runs 41 trains from mines to ports, comprising 148 locomotives and 9400 iron ore cars on its 1500km rail network.

Automated train operations will also drive productivity improvements, with greater flexibility in train scheduling and the removal of driver changeover times creating extra capacity in the rail network. Other benefits include more efficient fuel use, resulting in lower energy costs and a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions for each tonne of iron ore produced.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia and Iron Ore Sam Walsh said the company is leading the way in large-scale use of automation, with plans to deploy 150 driverless trucks and plans for AutoHaul.

“Expanding Pilbara iron ore production is a high-return and low-risk investment for Rio Tinto that will enhance shareholder value. Automation will help us meet our expansion targets in a safe, more efficient and cost-effective way,” Walsh said.

“Automation also helps us address the significant skills shortage facing the industry, providing a valuable opportunity to improve productivity. However, as we expand our business we will see an overall increase in job numbers and this will provide new opportunities in the rail division and elsewhere. As always, we will engage directly with those affected as we gradually make the transition to automation over the next three years.”

AutoHaul and the overall expansion of rail operations are subject to a number of state government and other approvals.

Heavy Haul Rail 2012
28th – 29th August 2012 | City Hall, Newcastle
For more information please contact: