Western Australia has extensive networks of standard gauge and narrow gauge railways. Standard gauge lines run from Perth to the Western Australia–South Australia border on the Trans-Australian Railway, from Kalgoorlie to Esperance, and from Kalgoorlie to Leonora. Most of the railway lines in the south-west of Western Australia are narrow gauge. Dual gauge railways (narrow and standard gauge) run from Avon Yard (near Northam) to the CBH Group export terminal at Kwinana via Midland, Thornlie and Cockburn South.
The Pilbara region of Western Australia has four privately-owned railway networks for transporting iron ore from mines to ports. Numerous mines over a large area are linked by these railways. Most lines travel in generally a northerly direction from mine to port. Between Solomon Junction (around 200 km south of Port Hedland) and Port Hedland, railway lines owned by BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Roy Hill all follow a similar route.
Links to maps of the major railway lines in Western Australia are below.
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)
In Western Australia the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) manages and maintains the Trans-Australian Railway line from Kalgoorlie to the Western Australia–South Australia border (near Deakin), which consists of 787 km of track.
Arc Infrastructure (formerly Brookfield Rail) manages the regional railway network in the southern half of Western Australia, consisting of 5543 km of track. The network includes numerous lines from near Perth to Geraldton, Leonora, Kalgoorlie, Esperance, Albany and Bunbury. Its infrastructure includes standard, narrow and dual gauge tracks which facilitate the transport of commodities including grain, iron ore, coal, alumina and bauxite. Passenger services operated by Transwa operate along these lines from Perth to Northam, Merredin, Kalgoorlie and Bunbury. Interstate freight and passenger trains also use the Arc Infrastructure network. The Arc Infrastructure website provides news and information regarding its operations and projects.
The BHP iron ore business in the Pilbara is known as Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) and is part of BHP’s Minerals Australia asset group. Its railway network in the Pilbara includes 1342 km of lines that service five operational mines and connects with two separate port facilities located in Port Hedland. Two heavy haulage railway lines carry iron ore from inland mining operations to the port for shipment. The railway line between Newman and Port Hedland is 426 km long, making it one of Australia’s longest privately-owned railways. Iron ore is transported from the mine hubs of Newman, Yandi, Mining Area C and Jimblebar to the port facilities of Finucane Island and Nelson Point, located in Port Hedland. A line of about 50 km in length branches off the Newman–Port Hedland line at Yandina Junction and extends to Mac. Production at the Yarrie Mine in the northern Pilbara was suspended in 2014 and the 208 km long Goldsworthy railway line between the mine and Finucane Island (Port Hedland) was mothballed. BHP’s railways include a network of spur lines, loops and marshalling yards.
Fortescue Metals Group (FMG)
Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has 620 km of railway lines linking mines with port facilities at Port Hedland. Its railway tracks can carry axle loads of up to 40 tonnes. The company’s rail support centre, which includes locomotive and ore car maintenance workshops, is located at Thomas Yard, 15 km from Port Hedland. A Train Control Centre in Perth is introducing an Integrated Train Control System to track trains by GPS and provide operating instructions to trains via digital communications.
Public Transport Authority (PTA)
The Network & Infrastructure division of the Public Transport Authority (PTA) of Western Australia manages the rail network in Perth, including the lines operated by Transperth passenger trains. The system covers 180.8 km of track with 72 stations. All lines serviced by passenger trains are electrified and extend to Armadale, Butler, Fremantle, Mandurah, Midland and Thornlie.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore
The Rio Tinto network includes 1782 km of railway line, which services 15 mines and four port facilities. Its longest line extends over 400 km from mines at West Angelas and Yandicoogina. Lines converge at Western Creek Junction, and then continue to ports at Cape Lambert (near Wickham) and Dampier.
The Roy Hill railway network consists of 395 km of track. Its main line is 344 km in length and runs from the Roy Hill Mine to port facilities at Port Hedland. It is the newest of the railways in the Pilbara, and commenced operations in 2015. From the mine the line runs generally north-west, and is close to the Fortescue Metals Group line from Christmas Creek. From near Solomon Junction these two lines run generally north, along with the BHP railway. There are four passing loops on the Roy Hill line, each approximately 3.2 kilometres long. The track is capable of carrying axle loads up to 42.8 tonnes, which is the heaviest in the world. Trains are loaded at the Roy Hill Mine using a loading system that is controlled from the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Perth.