Autonomous Freight Trains in Australia

Alexander W. Wardrop
Independent Railway Operations Research Consultant, Sydney, Australia

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Ingår i: RailNorrköping 2019. 8th International Conference on Railway Operations Modelling and Analysis (ICROMA), Norrköping, Sweden, June 17th – 20th, 2019

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 69:73, s. 1120-1130

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Publicerad: 2019-09-13

ISBN: 978-91-7929-992-7

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Australia’s first autonomous train began running in July 2018. Its running was preceded by extensive trials of both on- and off-train technology. It was not a classic metro train but a 30,000+ tonnes bulk iron ore train, comprising 220-240 wagons, each weighing 130-160 tonnes when laden, and hauled by 2x3280 kW diesel locomotives. This paper discusses the usual rationales for developing autonomous trains and then tests them against the realities of running heavy haul freight trains in remote areas. Any apparent lack of line capacity is less important than the need for reliable mine-to-port supply chains. Furthermore, mining in remote areas is expensive and increasingly difficult to resource so automation of processes is increasingly attractive to mining companies. The automation of iron ore railway operations beckoned if mining companies could assemble, test and have accepted the various technical building blocks. Pilbara Iron has now completed these steps.


Autonomous Trains, Freight Trains, Heavy Haul Railways, Driver Advice System


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