PILBARA RAILWAY PAGES
PILBARA RAIL / IRON ROAD
Page updated 11/11/2007
Since the 15th of April, 2002 wagons have entered this road.
Pilbara Rail operate the most modern fleet of General Electric C44-9W, or Dash 9 locomotives designated the 94 and 70 Class in Australia. This company came to the fore when Hamersley Iron's owner Rio Tinto bought out North's share holding in Robe River Iron Associates, and merged both Hamersley and Robe's rail interests to form Pilbara Rail. The two companies have also merged their iron ore operations under the banner of Pilbara Iron, and a number of units are also lettered likewise. The new paint scheme can be seen below to include both the former companies colours. With the silver and yellow body being divided by red, yellow and black strips. They sure make a striking impression against the stark Pilbara landscape.
The 3 original units purchased under the Pilbara Rail name were numbered 9470, 9471, 9472, with Robe lettering, builders numbers of 53455, 53456, 53457, build dates of October 2001, and delivered on the 21-02-2002. Testing and commissioning took place at Hamersley Iron Seven Mile facility, before heading to Cape Lambert to take up duties on the line to West Angelas mine. These three locos have since been re-numbered 9401-9402-9403.
Today there is no such demarcation of locomotives, and with a new car dumper built at Cape Lambert, trains from Hamersley Iron Yandi (HIY) mine are also railed into Cape Lambert. The only captive ore cars are the original Robe cars still running from the Deepdale mine to the port at Cape Lambert.
A typical consist for the Pilbara Rail Tom Price line is 2 Dash 9 locos and up to 240 ore cars trailing behind, loaded with up to 110 tonnes of iron ore. They also utilise banker locos operated by pairs of Dash 9 locos to push trains out of Paraburdoo to Wombat Junction, with another 2 pairs based out of the Yandi (HIY) and a pair at West Angelas. Both Yandi and West Angelas trains are banked to Hawk Siding. Once the 'Lang Hancock Railway' is constructed for the Hope Downs mine, it to will use a pair of bank engines to push trains to Hawk. The 'Lang Hancock Railway' is a branch off the West Angelas line.
Pilbara Rail run the heaviest trains in the world with head end only power.
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 220 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 Seven Mile Yard with four train control desks. One desk is assigned to the Seven Mile Yard and both East Intercourse Island and Parker Point 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, soon to include Cape Lambert yard. 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 BHPBilliton 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 down load as a PDF here.
Click on image.