Rio Tinto on track for smoother rail system

Mining company Rio Tinto's railway systems will receive the best of care following the signing of a five-year deal with the University's Institute of Railway Technology (IRT).

IRT, an applied research centre, specialises in providing comprehensive solutions to technical issues in existing rail systems, whether they transport iron ore, freight, or commuters. It provides technical assistance to the world's biggest iron ore producers, including BHP Billiton and Vale (Brazil), and more than 90 other railway entities, including leading commuter rail authorities.

IRT has worked with Rio Tinto on several projects since 2005, trouble-shooting issues related to rolling stock, track maintenance and the wheel-rail interface.

Director of IRT, Ravi Ravitharan said the new agreement cemented the relationship at a time when Rio Tinto was planning a major expansion of its iron ore operations in the Pilbara.

"These trains are up to 2.4 kilometres long, and carry enormous loads (31,000 tonnes) and they must be kept operating efficiently to meet increased capacity targets. Asset maintenance is one of the critical factors to increasing productivity," Mr Ravitharan said.

"One of IRT's strengths is remotely monitoring tracks and rolling stock performance using cutting-edge technology to detect faults before failures occur. This kind of expertise will help keep Rio Tinto's railway system running smoothly and efficiently over the next five years."