Driverless Trains: Rio Tinto has them runningin Australia–70277?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=prnewsletter-2023&utm_source=prfeatures&oly_enc_id=0240G5852612I5U

"While U.S. rail and labor leaders continue to debate whether autonomous (driverless) freight trains would or could operate safely in the United States — labor says ‘no,’ railroads say ‘yes’ — global mining company Rio Tinto began using AutoHaul™, the world’s first fully autonomous heavy haul railway system, in 2018. "

"Rio Tinto’s Pilbara region operations include 10,000 employees, 17 mines, four ports, three power stations, a network of 1,900 kilometers of track, 57 trains, 221 locomotives, 13,000 rail cars, eight rail-car dumpers, two rail yards and one integrated operations center. In 2022, the company transported more than 320 million tonnes of iron ore by rail, according to Mucciolo. "

"All locomotives were fitted with new safety technology including collision detection systems; automatic train protection technology that controls train speed to ensure adherence to speed limits; onboard video cameras to record the front view from the train; and on-board cameras allowing for constant monitoring from the operations center in Perth. All public grade crossings on the network were fitted with CCTV cameras. There are 42 such crossings on the region’s rail network. "


Pretty much OT, but that made me curious, so I poked around.

Approximately 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings exist on approximately 140,000 miles of track that make up the United States’ railroad system.


More and more crossings get flashing lights and sometimes gates. State funds are often available to help upgrade crossing.

Efforts are made to close little used rural crossings.

Federal money is available to build overpasses.

And railroads increasingly put resources into their high volume routes and abandon those less used.

Still improving grade crossings is a huge job. Note that in the day of the horse, everyone wanted to live within 20 mi of a train station. Railroads went everywhere. Now we have fewer but still lots of crossings.

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