HITACHI Rail has completed commissioning of the AutoHaul automated operating system on a 166km extension of Rio Tinto’s heavy-haul network in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

AutoHaul is now in operation on the connection to a new iron-ore mine at Gudai-Darri, taking to 1866km the route length operated remotely from an operations centre in Perth, without the need for drivers to be present onboard the network’s 220 locomotives.

Rio Tinto completed the transition to entirely automated operation of its Pilabara network with AutoHaul in June 2019, becoming the world’s first heavy-haul railway to operate an automated network.

As the technical lead in the development of AutoHaul, Hitachi Rail has supplied systems and software for the Gudai-Darri project.

This has included 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.

All systems and software are now operational following the first production test run and successful system commissioning.

According to Hitachi Rail, the Gudai-Darri mine loop features high-performance automated train loading under AutoHaul control for the first time.

“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,” says Ms Roslyn Stuart, senior director, Australia, at Hitachi Rail.