Fortescue Metals Group Road

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) operate a diverse roster of motive power consisting of:

  • 15 General Electric 9-44CW. These units are rated at 3270 kilowatts or 4400 horse power. And are very much like the Pilbara Rail / Hamersley Iron units, but with black bogies, black underframe and tank etc. Build date for the FMG Dash 9 order is August 2007 with serial no's: 58178 (001) to 58192 (015).
  • 4 Electro Motive Division SD90MAC-H. These units were rated at 6000 horsepower and are ex Union Pacific SD90MAC-H units. Rebuilt and repainted for FMG by Juniata Shops and Mid America Car. And they have been re-powered by FMG with 16-710G3 engines for 4300HP.
  • 5 Electro Motive Division SD9043MAC. These units are rated at 4300 horsepower, again ex Union Pacific SD90MAC-H units but rebuilt with the 16-710G3 motor and keeping their original alternator and traction motors by Juniata Shops.
  • 8 Electro Motive Division SD90MAC-H2. These units were rebuilt by EMD/Progress Rail at their Kentucky shops with the H series engine to be replaced by FMG in Australia. Units delivered in December 2014.
  • 21 Electro Motive Diesels SD70ACe/LCi, these units are rated at 4300 horsepower.
A downloadable PDF of the roster is available here.

Operation of the heavy haul railway from Anderson Point, Port Hedland to the junction location of Nunna, where the line to the Solomon Hub branches off to the west, while the line to the Chichester Hub which serves the Cloud Break and Christmas Creek Mines continues south.
The track consists of a number of passing loops and duplicated track sections, and totals more than 600 km of 68 kg/m rail on concrete sleepers a 40 tonne axle load of standard gauge configuration.
Mainline switches or points are 1 in 20 swing nose frog type with motorised blades and frogs.

Since the original line was built the whole operation have undergone some renaming changes and major reconfiguration.
A new locomotive service centre and fuel tanker loading gantry has been built just south of the Great Northern Highway overpass as is called Kanyirri Yard.
Rowley Yard which was the original name of the locomotive workshops and marshalling yard has been rename Thomas Yard and now includes the ore car repair shop and the expanded marshalling yard with the rail welding yard and other support services.

The new duplicated double track now runs for the port, which consists of 3 rotary car dumpers, past Kanyirri and Thomas Yards to East Turner, the 30 km post where it reverts back to single track to cross the East Turner River.
From there it passes the original Barker Siding which is a single ended ballast loading site at the 43 and 44 km.
Chapman Siding (loop) between the 68 and 72 km has been replaced with a much longer duplicated section of track running from south from the 54 km with the location known as Canning. This duplication continues south taking in the now duplicated section to Chapman, the original first crossing loop south, and the line reverts to single track at the old Chapman South location 72km.
Single track once again becomes duplicated at the 94km, a much increased Durack, a former refuge siding near the 98 km.
This duplication now runs past the new location of Kanga with east to west and west to east cross over's located at about the 105 km, and extends past the former Forrest crossing loop to the 133 km where it's once again single track, this time to cross the BHP Billiton line at their Woodstock location.
After the flyover there is a single ended maintenance siding running south near the 145 km, and the former single ended maintenance siding of Gibb has been converted to a crossing loop of about 4 kilometres in length, running from the south side of the Yule River to the 157 km.
Then at the 164 kilometre the line again is duplicated at the location of Coonaire. This duplication then runs to Nunna which is the end of the duplication at the 174.5 km and also the junction for the Solomon line which curves away to the west and crosses the BHP Billiton line at their location of Spring.
From here the line continues south to Hunter Siding and the Chichester Hub of Cloud Break and Christmas Creek and west towards the Solomon Hub via Avon Siding crossing loop with maintenance spur on the east end, which is between the and 191 and 195km, the Great Northern Hwy is crossed at the 198 km, Bow Siding crossing loop is located around the 220km and Capel Siding crossing loop at the 259 and 263km with a maintenance spur running west just beyond the 263km.
The extensions south to Christmas Creek is 35 km, and west to the Solomon Hub of 130 km.

Train consists in January 2009 were 200 to 204 cars, with a test rake that is 230 cars with two Dash 9 locos on the point, now this has been increased to 240 cars, with five trains a day running between the port and mine.
Banking out of Cloud Break is with a pair of Dash 9 units. The bank engines work from Cloud Break to Hunter Siding, where they are cut off and either run back to the mine light engine, or are attached to the empty if it's already at Hunter. The axle loading of the waggons is 40 tonnes.

Some sightings in Jan 2009, include:
  • Wednesday 21st Jan, 2009 locos 010 and 015 with the 230 car test rake
  • Locos 009 and 007 with a loaded 200 car train
  • Loco 003 port shunter
  • Locos 013-006 with 204 empty car train

Train Control has now been relocated to Perth, and FMG was the first Pilbara operator to have their control operations located remotely. A radio based train order system is the method of safe working over a UHF radio network.

A PDF file of all Pilbara railroad operating frequencies can be accessed here.

FMG calls the train order a Proceed Authority or PA for short. Track access for gangs and other work groups is done with a TAA or Track Access Authority. FMG, like the rest of the Pilbara operators use single man crews.

Track laying was undertaken with work trains using rebuilt ex Robe River and Hamersley Iron Alco locomotives. GTSA rebuilt them. Locos are numbered and named as follows:
DR8401 Jean ex 9426 Robe River C-636R 3499-02 / WA-143-1, new Alco 251+ engine.
DR8402 Margaret ex 3007, Hamersley Iron C-636R G-6011-2 to WA-135-C, rebuilt Alco 251F engine.
DR8403 Rachel ex 9427 Robe River C-636R 3499-03 to WA-143-2, Alco 251+ bottom and F series tops, and
DR8404 Vera ex 3013 Hamersley Iron C-636R G-6040-1 / WA-135-C.

Attached to the side of the radiator are decals pointing out the following:
Owned by Coote Industrial, Rebuilt by GTSA Engineering, Leased to ARMS (Australian Rain Mining Services), a subsidiary of South Spur Rail Services.

Rail and ballast wagons are the same ones used to build the Darwin line. Ballast cars are coded AHBY and these orange ex North Australia cars are complemented by yellow CFCLA CHQY type cars.
Following a field trip to see the track-laying progress in early December the consist of the train was, click here for pop-up.

Track laying was also carried out by hand from Cloud Break heading north towards Hunter Siding. A locomotive TL154 was trucked over from Melbourne, Victoria for use on a small ballast train of approx six car. This train operated out from Cloud Break as required. The locomotive has since been transported back to Melbourne by road.

Heading south from the marshalling yard, the first siding at the 43.5 km is Barker, and this is the second ballast loading site. It is single ended and 250 metres long, the switch points north, with the siding located on the eastern side of the mainline. Ballast is trucked across from the Elezac Quarry, located next to BHP's mainline near at the 51 km.
The consist of the ballast train is, click here for pop-up.
The first passing loop or siding is called Chapman and runs from about the 68.5 km to the 71.8 km. It's located on the east side of the mainline. Prior to operations commencing there was a rake of ore cars sitting in it 2200 metres long. This siding is visible from BHP's Tabba Siding.

On Thursday the 1st of November, 2007, the good ship BBC Kusan commenced unloading the first of FMG's Dash 9 locomotives. The first loco left the port at 0955 hrs, followed by the second at 1150 hrs. Third unit left the port at 1530 hrs. A problem with the tarp allowed a photo of the unit at the Redbank Bridge, after it was removed. Unloading of the locos continued until Sunday the 4th of November.
The second batch of wagons was being unloaded over the 6-11th November.
The forth batch is being unloaded off the ship AMAZONEBORG in early January. Some wagon numbers are: 1582 : 2582, 1603 : 2604.
Another load of ore cars has arrived on the 3rd of February, off the ship African Grace.
And with the next shipment due very soon, that will be the completion of the original 816 ore car order.

We've also heard of another 160 ore cars have been ordered. This will bring the total cars close to 1000. The cars are manufactured in China by CSR, in their Zhuzhou Rolling Stock Works, and are normally shipped from the Chinese port of Zhangjiaga.
Also a total of twelve fuel tank wagons are due later in the year.

Due to the un-reliability of some of the rebuilt Alco units, FMG locomotives were used on a regular basis hauling the ballast trains. While the Alco locos DR8401 and DR8402 work the 'materials' or rail and sleeper train.
On Tuesday the 5th of February 2008, FMG loco 004 departed Barker Siding with a loaded ballast train (013 on the rear) at 1210 hrs heading to the 104 km to drop ballast on Proceed Authority no. 0685. This was the first such working of FMG locomotives and crews on the construction of the line.
Upon arrival at the 104 km, 1330 hrs, another PA was issued, no. 0686 to allow 004 to drop the ballast as required up to the 112 km.
Once ballasting was completed, PA 0687 was issued to loco 013 at 1508 hrs for the return to Barker Siding to stow.
Section times were: Depart 104 km, 1508 hrs, Chapman Siding 1555 hrs, Indee Rd Xing (48.3 km) 1615 hrs, and arrival and stowed at Barker Siding at 1627 hrs.
On the following day 004 and 013 again worked the ballast train.

On Friday the 8th of February, 2008 FMG locos 006 and 007 did two ballast runs for the day.
On Saturday the 9th of February, 2008 FMG loco 006 worked the materials train to Durack Siding, once cut off and in the siding, DR8402 pushed the train to the construction zone, while 006 worked back light engine to Barker on PA 0797 arriving at 0846 hrs. Which then worked a ballast train south with 007.

By the 2nd of March, 2008, track laying was at the 142.300 km area. Ballast was only a few hundred metres behind. Locomotives were 002 and 011 on the ballast rake. 8401 and 8403 on the material train. Track work was also close to the North West Coastal Hwy crossing and was being laid by hand.

For more information click here for the FMG website. They also have a rail image collection on the site.

Click on image for pop up.
thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb Panoramic view of train thumb thumb thumb CHQY unloaded off ship thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb Photo by Geoffrey Higham

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