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Australia faces third accident with driverless locomotives in a year

27 May 2024
Reading time ~ 1 min
Rio Tinto's unmanned freight train derailed
Rio Tinto's unmanned freight train derailed. Source: ABC News
Ivolgina Anna, Editorial Contributor to International Projects, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 1 min
Stolchnev Alexey, Russian Projects Editor, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

Australia: Two weeks ago, the mining company Rio Tinto announced that its freight train hit a set of loaded stationary cars 80 km from the city of Karratha.

Three locomotives and 22 cars were damaged and derailed. The company launched the world’s first fully autonomous railway line in free-field conditions with a fleet of more than 200 locomotives in the region of Pilbara in 2019.

The investigation is carried out by both Rio Tinto and the Australian Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator. Australia’s rail safety watchdog plans to check the operation of and adherence to signalling systems. The trade union MEU says, at the same time, that the accident may have been caused by the faults of dispatchers.

Accident on the automated railway line of Rio Tinto (Western Australia). Source: ABC News

February saw Rio Tinto’s unmanned trainset left the tracks 120 km from the port of Dampier, having damaged 38 cars. It follows another derailment near Karratha, which impacted 30 cars and 700 m of track in June 2023. However, Rio Tinto doesn’t align these cases with the maloperation of the unmanned driving system.

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