AutoHaul® Project

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Expansion Projects and Rio Tinto

Pilbara Region, Western Australia, Australia

Calibre has been engaged as the Engineering Procurement and Construction Management (EPCM) consultant for the AutoHaul® project in Western Australia.

Rio Tinto's Autohaul

This project is the worlds’ first automated, long distance, heavy haul rail network and is a key component of the Rio Tinto Iron Ore Rail Capacity Enhancement Project (RCE).

The delivery of AutoHaul® will enable an increase in shipped iron ore tonnages to 360 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) through reducing iron ore delivery cycle times as well as improving the safety and efficiency of rail operations on the mailine. This is achieved through an optimised driving stategy, which is computed by a powerful on-board, predictive, and dynamic train simulation.

Over three million kilometres have already been travelled in 2017 and 2018 by autonomous attended trains which are driven by the AutoHaul system and supervised by drivers on-board the trains, partially realising the safety and efficiency benefits of the AutoHaul® system. Calibre has worked as the Engineer and Design Authority since the beginning of the project and has commissioned a comprehensive wayside communications network and implemented lean engineering principles to accelerate fit-out of Rio Tinto’s Dash 9 and EVO locomotive fleets to support the AutoHaul® system. 

The AutoHaul® project performed a world-first fully autonomous heavy haul journey in September 2017, successfully travelling 100km from Wombat Junction to Paraburdoo.  The project is currently focused on increasing system reliability and engineering the system to fully support the new generation of AC locomotives and minimise in-train forces.   Rio Tinto has now achieved accreditation to operate fully autonomous AutoHaul® trains from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator and will be undertaking a phased ramp-up of autonomous train operation across Rio Tinto’s Pilbara network to attain full safety and cycle time reduction benefits in 2018. 

To date, deliverables for the AutoHaul® project have included:

  • Integrated locomotive on-board systems including an enhanced Automatic Train Protection system and a collision detection system
  • Communication system upgrades to the Rio Tinto Data Network (RTDN)
  • Additional signalling on mainline rail and at load out loop and rail yard handover points
  • Enhanced wayside asset protection systems
  • Additional level crossing protection including obstruction detection systems to enhance public safety, and
  • Modified work stations at the Operations Centre.