The rail system is an essential part of Rio Tinto's integrated iron ore production process and directly affects the company's capacity to blend ore to meet customer specifications.

Key Data

Location Depots at Tom Price, Cape Lambert, and Dampier (7 Mile)
Train Control is located in Perth
Operation Services 14 mines via a mainline system of approximately 1,400 kilometres of track
Working arrangements Residential and fly-in/fly-out roster
Haul capacity Approximately 228 million tonnes of ore per annum
Train Profile Each train is operated by a single driver, and comprises up to 234 ore cars, each ore car with a load capacity of approximately 112 tonnes. A fully loaded train weighs approximately 31,000 tonnes and is about 2.4 kilometres in length.
Cycle time Average cycle time is about 35 hours; there is a train movement almost every 25 minutes along the line
First year of operation 1966
Ownership Hamersley Iron and Robe River; managed by Pilbara Iron

• 72 x GE Dash 9
• 56 x GE Evo
• 4 x GE Dash 8

Ore cars:
• Mesa J wagons = 845 (5 x 163 car consists)

Pooled Fleet:
• 8,000 (32 x 234 car consists)

Rail access roads

Our rail access roads are privately owned, initially built to provide maintenance access to the Hamersley Iron/Robe River (now Rio Tinto) railway to the coast. It continues to expand today with in excess of 1400 kilometres of gravel road running parallel to our rail network throughout the Pilbara.

In order to drive on the rail access roads you must hold a valid permit.

General public

Thirty day general public permits can be obtained by visiting your closest north west visitor centre or completing a short online training module.

Rio Tinto employees

If you are a permanent Rio Tinto employee you can access the training through your training profile or by contacting your leader.

Company permits

Companies working in the Pilbara can travel on the rail access roads if the vehicle driver carries a copy of a company permit, they have a completed the online training, and the vehicle is registered and roadworthy. The permit does not cover sub-contractors unless specific arrangements have been made. Company permits are valid for 12 months.

Infringements will be issued for any persons who breach the safety requirements of the rail access roads. An initial breach will result in a formal notification and any subsequent breach may result in access being denied and your permit withdrawn.

For more information contact (08) 9143 6176 or railaccessroad@riotinto.com.

For current road conditions contact our recorded information service on (08) 9143 6464.

Open rail access road online training package

Rail access road map Cape Lambert to Pannawonica

Rail access road map Dampier to Tom Price


Rail safety community video message

LOOK. LISTEN. LIVE. A rail safety message which urges the community to be aware of oncoming trains around rail crossings.