Greater efficiency and longer trains are on the horizon for Aurizon in the Hunter Valley, after the Queensland-based operator ran its first Hunter coal haulage service using distributed power last week.
The train leaving BHP’s Mt Arthur mine on September 11, and was unloaded at the Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group export facility that evening.
Aurizon said the distributed power service was the result of strong collaboration across the coal supply chain, to ensure rail facilities, the mine, and the port could handle the newly-configured trains.
Aurizon’s NSW coal operations general manager Catherine Baxter said the company was the first to introduce distributed power into its coal heavy haul business.
“We are proud to partner with our foundation customer BHP to have the first of these trains enter operations,” Baxter said. “This proven technology will reduce in-train forces and ensure improved rollingstock reliability.”
Distributed power sees locomotives distributed along the train (i.e. between, or after, the wagons), to allow for better distribution of traction and braking forces, and the reduction of draft forces (tensile forces acting on the trains’ couplings).
The layout contrasts with the standard Hunter Valley revenue coal train, which is typically configured with two head-end locomotives followed by 88 coal wagons.
“The distributed power trains will now have one locomotive at the front of the train and another at the rear, or toward the rear, of the train,” Baxter explained.
“Preliminary simulation work predicted peak draft force reductions in the order of 40% and average fatigue damage reductions of approximately 55%, with trials supporting these results. This greatly improves our service reliability for our customer, and in time we will also work to increase our train lengths using the benefits of this technology.”