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Rio Tinto’s fully autonomous heavy haul freight rail network has been extended to include banker locomotives in an augmentation of the AutoHaul™ system. Australia’s Senior Director of Sales and Delivery Roslyn Stuart discusses how this latest innovation is enhancing the economic sustainability and efficiency of this ground-breaking project.

The exits of several of mines in the AutoHaul™ network are very steep. To travel up these steep gradients, the ore train and its joints are put under increased pressure. To relieve this and reduce the chance of joint failure, two additional locomotives known as bankers are attached to the rear of the train to help ‘push’ it up and out of the mine.

Rio Tinto Bankers

Autonomous innovation

The latest Hitachi Rail developed innovation, allows the bankers to detach automatically, when they reach the designated zone. With the driver of the lead banker visually confirming successful detachment from the train, at the appropriate moment, before driving it back to the mine.

During the ‘banked’ part of the journey, automatic systems and software are responsible for driving the train. In addition, AutoHaul™’s sophisticated train control system is able to disconnect bankers automatically when required – as the trains continue running.

Riotinto Autohaul

A safety focussed solution

Our teams worked closely to complete the complex modification to the onboard software, which has been deployed across more than 200 locomotives.

As always safety was paramount, as we worked to ensure the bankers could disconnect seamlessly and at speed. With the system accredited and approved by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), it is now up and running.

We are really proud of this latest technical innovation and how it continues to extend AutoHaul™’s capabilities.

It showcases the fantastic teamwork between Rio Tinto and Hitachi Rail Australia – a collaboration that just keeps getting better.


Roslyn Stuart

Senior Director Sales & Projects - Australia Location: Australia