Rio Tinto Road

Rio Tinto Iron Ore is the name for original Hamersley Iron and taken over Robe River combined operations of Pilbara Rail and Pilbara Iron. Rio Tinto wholly owns Hamersley Iron and 53 percent of Robe River Iron Associates, following a buyout of North Ltd, and operate the Hope Downs project on a 50/50 joint venture with Hancock Prospecting P/L. For more information, check out the Rio Tinto Iron Ore site here.

The locomotive fleet is made up of the following types:
  • 21 ES44ACi of 'EVO' units, an AC version of the ES44DCi. These units are numbered from 9100 onwards and more are on order. They are in the Rio Tinto silver with red stripes and numerals.
  • 100 ES44DCi or 'EVO', a modern and technologically advanced fleet of 4400 horse power General Electric units, with the road numbers 8100 to 8199. These units carry two liveries, the units 8100 to 8118 are all silver with black 'Rio Tinto' and the units 8119 to 8199 carry red stripes with red 'Rio Tinto' and numerals.
  • 72 9-44CW, or Dash 9's, an aging but very reliable fleet of 4000 horse power General Electric locomotives with DC traction designated the road numbers of 9401 to 9409, 9428 to 9436 and 7043 to 7098 (excluding 7051 and 7052).
    These units wear a variety of liveries, from the original sliver with blue and red stripes, the combined colours of Pilbara Rail and Pilbara Iron and one unit 9406 carries the Rio Tinto all over grey following collision rebuilding.
    A colour and serial number chart can be viewed here.
  • 4 CM40-8M or Dash 8, four much older former Robe River rebuilt former ALCo units into General Electric locos are still on the roster. These units are in the former Robe yellow and black livery.

The 3 original 9-44CW units purchased by Robe River and lettered under Pilbara Rail livery 9470, 9471, 9472, with Robe identifiny marks with serial no's 53455, 53456 and 53457, build October 2001 and delivered on the 21-02-2002 have since been re-numbered 9401-9402-9403 and now form part of the total pooled fleet.

A typical consist on the "Tom Price" line is 3 locomotives and 234 ore cars trailing behind, loaded with approximently 112 tonnes of iron ore. They also utilise bank locomotives operated by a pair of units to push loaded trains out of Paraburdoo to Wombat Junction (Tom Price), with another two pairs, one based out of the Yandi (HIY) Mine and the other at West Angelas Mine. Both Yandi and West Angelas trains are banked to Hawk Siding (350 km). The 'Lang Hancock Railway' which connects the Hope Downs mine (460 km) with the West Angelas line at the 406 km also use a pair of bank engines to push loaded trains to Hawk Siding (350 km).

The only captive ore cars are the original Robe River 'J cars' or Robe Valley Cars as they are now known. These cars only run between Cape Lambert and either Mesa A, 4 trains per day, or Mesa J (Deepdale), 1 train per day. These rakes of 167 (approx.) cars are powered by double ES44ACi locomotives and restricted to the original Car Dumper #1 at Cape Lambert, which dumps a single car at a time.

Historical Information (requries cleaning).

On the Deepdale line from Cape Lambert to Deepdale (Mesa J) anything up to 4 Dash 9 locos can run a train. But most common is 2 Dash 9 and 2 Dash 8 units per train. One short service uses 3 locos, most trains are around 234 cars long. At Western Creek (72km) an interconnecting line runs round to the Tom Price line and joins this at Emu. This allows the West Angelas and Yandi trains to run direct to Cape Lambert.

The Tom Price railway runs from the Seven Mile Yard 280 km to Wombat Junction where the Tom Price (295 km) spur leaves the main to continue to Paraburdoo (385 km) with two branch lines diverting from Rosella Loop (251 km). One to Brockman (294 km) running west of Tom Price. And the other past Marandoo (300 km) and West Angelas to Yandicoogina (440 km) to the east of Tom Price.
The track side signals were removed years ago by Hamersley Iron and replaced with an 'Integrated Control Signalling System' (ICSS for short) which relays the limit of authority to the driver via the track to a display in the cab. The limit of authority is determined by the interlocking computers from commands that the train controller enters in a manner similar to CTC operation.

Train control over the whole network is carried out from Rio Tinto's state of the art remote control centre in Perth some 1500 kilometres from the operation. Control consisted of four train control desks. One desk is assigned to the Seven Mile Yard and both East Intercourse Island and Parker Point yards and dumpers, another assigned to the mainline from 7 Mile to the 238 kilometre on the mainline to Tom Price, another assigned to the south of the 238 kilometre on the Tom Price main, out to all the mines. And the forth desk is for the Deepdale line from Cape Lambert to Deepdale. Communications are carried out over a UHF radio network. A PDF file of all Pilbara railroad operating frequencies can be accessed here.

The rostering of the rail crews on the Tom Price mainline is similar to BHPBilliton Iron Ore, in that crews work an 'out and back' trip, with drivers located at Dampier, Tom Price and some mines on a 'Fly-in Fly-out' basis, working opposing trains and then changing over around the mid way point of the journey when they need to cross. Pilbara Rail utilise single man crews and also have 'Mobile Enginemen' in motor cars to travel between mines and bank engine jobs.

Pilbara Rail acquired two ex BHP Billiton Dash 7 locos that were rebuilt by Goninan in Perth and numbered 5051 and 5052 in the Pilbara Rail colours. These 2 units work as shunters and are limited to 7 Mile yard and back and forth to the car dumpers. They are known locally as Bill and Ben, and are not very well liked.

For a current list of Pilbara Rail's locomotives, complete with -9 serial numbers, build dates and livery, click here: Pilbara Rail Loco Colours, or to download as a PDF here.

Hamersley Iron operate a modern fleet of General Electric 9-44CW, or Dash 9 locomotives designated the 70 Class. These units are rated at 4,400 horsepower and allowed HI to totally replace their locomotive fleet in 1995, when a further 3 units arrived in early 2001 this delivery bolstered the fleet to 32 locos. These were the first locos in Australia to have the 'Rollerblade' style of bogie.
A typical consist is 2 Dash 9 locos on the point with up to 234 ore cars trailing behind loaded with 105 tonnes of iron ore. They also use a banking pair of locos to push trains out of Paraburdoo up to Tom Price and also to push trains out of HIY (Yandicoogina). Hamersley Iron run the heaviest trains in the world with head end power.
Hamersley Iron operate their heavy haul railway from the Port of Dampier 280 km to Wombat Junction where the Tom Price (295 km) spur leaves the main to continue to Paraburdoo (385 km) with two branch lines diverting from Rosella Loop (251 km). One to Brockman (294 km) running west of Tom Price. And the other past Marandoo (300 km) to Yandicoogina (440 km) to the east of Tom Price.
Hamersley Iron removed their track side signals several years ago and replaced it with an 'In-cab Display', known as ICSS or Integrated Control Signalling System, which relays the trackage status to the driver from the train controller located in 7 Mile Yard (Dampier), and by extensive UHF radio coverage. The rostering of the rail crews differ somewhat from BHP Iron Ore, in that Hamersley crews work a type of change over arrangement with drivers located at both Dampier and Tom Price working opposing trains and then changing trains around the mid way point of the journey where they need to cross. Hamersley Iron, like the rest of the Pilbara operators utilise single man crews. For more info here's Rio Tinto Iron Ore website.


Last updated 24/12/2006.

Robe River Iron Associates operate a 200 kilometre railway from the port and crushing facilities at Cape Lambert to the mine at MESA J, called Deepdale. Which is located near the closed town (no public facilities) of Pannawonica. The line has 3 passing sidings which have been renamed from Siding 1(42km), 2(93km) and 3(133km) to Harding, Maitland and Murray Camp.

Following a take-over by Rio Tinto of North's holding in RRIA, two new companies was formed.
The first, used to operate both Hamersley Iron and Robe Rivers railway assets is called Pilbara Rail. They purchased 3 new General Electric Dash 9 locomotives to work the new line to the Robe River owned West Angelas mine. These units are identical is specs with the HI Dash 9, including HI's 'in -cab' ICSS signaling unit, which is required to operate over HI's line.
The second company is called Pilbara Iron and is used to consolidate the entire groups ore infrastructure.

The Robe River and Hamersley Iron lines have an interconnecting track, which leaves the Robe railway at the 72km, and joins the Hamersley line at about their 77km mark on the east track of the Emu loop / double track section. This location is called Western Creek.

Train control over the line is done from the Pilbara Rail Seven Mile yard facility, and is ICSS from Cape Lambert to Western Creek. Beyond Western Creek to Mesa J train order working is the form of safe working. The line also utilises voice announcing defect detectors, and these are readily picked up on a scanner to help locate a train.

The ex Robe fleet consists of:

  • 4 Alco C-636 units 9412, 9413, 9215, 9416.
  • 2 C-636R units 9426 and 9427 which are currently being stripped at Seven Mile for removal to Perth.
  • 12 CM40-8M units 9410-9411, 9414, 9417-9425 which are assigned to shunt units at Seven Mile and Cape Lambert and as extra power on Deepdale services.
  • 3 Dash 9 units 9470-9472 have been renumbered 9401 to 9403 and added to the pool of locomotives that operate system wide.

Click on image.

ES44ACi RHS ES44ACi RHS cab ES44ACi RHS hood ES44ACi RHS rad ES44ACi back to back ES44ACi LHS ES44ACi cab side ES44ACi hood LHS ES44ACi rad LHS 9424_CapeLambert Harding Shunt 1024 by 768!! 9404 7079 Dugite 7069 77 Gull 7069 77 Gull-Ibis 7098 Ibis 9407 7075 67 82k-xing 9407 7075 67 Maitland 9434-7095 Western Ck Junc 5052-52 7mile 7097-7093 7096 73 78 ParkerPoint 9417-20 7mile 7089 9433-29 67k 9419-9425 loadbay 7094 7mile 7061 9402 7085 OB1 7097-93 7mile 7083 fuel Dingo 9470 7Mile 9470 71 7mile loaded 9472 Cape Lambert 9472 Cape Lambert 9472 Cape Lambert
7089 7094 @ Pelican 7089 7094 @ Cockatoo 7087 @ Cockatoo Loop 7089 7074 X 7087 @ Cockatoo 7089 7074 X 7087 @ Cockatoo 7089 7074 X 7087 @ Cockatoo 7088 @ Cockatoo 7088 @ Cockatoo 7080 7082 at Robe flyover 7080 7082 distance 7082 72 at Possum 7082 72 at Possum 7072 at Possum 72 74 B ends Cross at Possum Loop Cross at Pelican 7068 7067 at Pelican 7068 7067 at Pelican 7084 & 89 with loaded
1171 wagon HI Grinder HI Grinder Click on image.
Stored Alcos Stored Alco 9412 Stored Alco 9415 Stored Alco 9413 Stored Alco 9416 Stripped Alco 9427 Departure from Cape Lambert Loaded train at 7 km Dash 8 9414 7074 loaded train 30 km Ore car 074 Ore car 853 thumb 9401 at Wickham thumb 9414 arrive at Cape Lambert 9414 at Cape Lambert 9426 at Cape Lambert 9420 at fuel point 9426 at Yard Pilot 9414 at Siding 1 Loaded downgrade at 36 km Loaded at pipe xing 9425 at Siding 2 9425 at Siding 2 9417 x 9414t at Siding 2 9414 loaded @ 89k xing Empty at 71k xing 9426 at Cape Lambert 9426 at Cape Lambert 9426 at Cape Lambert 9426 at Cape Lambert 9415 at Cape Lambert Old Alco's at Cape Lambert 9413 Cape Lambert 9143 at Cape Lambert 9426 at Cape Lambert

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