Wednesday 13 September 2023

Golden Hour at FMG.

Late in the afternoon of the 2nd of September 2023, during 'golden hour', we captured this empty train departing the Fortescue Metal Group Port Hedland port behind a pair of Wabtec AC44C6M rebuild units. The AC44C6M locomotive is an AC-traction 4,400-horsepower diesel-electric locomotive which have been rebuilt from General Electric 9-44CW (or Dash 9) locomotive models, including new cabs and an ES44ACi type radiator section. In FMG's case, their fleet of twenty-eight AC44C6M units heritage is all former BNSF/GECX lease units.

FMG's AC44C6M locomotive 109 serial number 50652 and rebuilt from BNSF 4798 with an original build date of June 1998 was delivered to Australia in the first tranche in July 2022, it is leading sister AC44C6M locomotive 120 with serial number 50631 and rebuilt from BNSF 4777 with an original build date of also of June 1998. The rebuilds retain their original serial numbers and build dates.

Trailing shot shows the left-hand side of AC44C6M locomotive 120 as the pair lead their empty train powering across the former Boodarie Access Road grade crossing at the 5 km curve.
All the AC44C6M rebuilds were completed by Wabtec at their Fort Worth, Texas plant and the three tranches of locomotives arrived in two deliveries, first in July 2022 (101-112) and the final in February 2023 (113-128). After a quarantine inspection they were road hauled to Thomas Yard for placing onto FMG rails.

Saturday 15 July 2023

Brimble Rail track machines to the Pilbara.

Brimble Rail was mobilised three track machines to the Pilbara to operate on Rio Tinto's relatively new branch line to the Koodaideri (Gudai-Darri) mine. The three machines, being a Plasser PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324, a Plasser BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler and a Plasser 09-3X 3-sleeper tamping machine to supplement the two RailFirst lease EL class locomotives and ballast hopper waggons as the undertake remediation works on the 166-kilometre line which opened in June 2022.

Plasser PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324, above, at Auski Roadhouse during delivery.

Auski (or Munjina) Roadhouse, 280 kilometres south of Port Hedland, Brimble Rail's three Plasser track machines, a BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler, 09-3X track tamper and a PBR 203 ballast regulator numbered TMS 324.

Auski (or Munjina) Roadhouse, 280 kilometres south of Port Hedland, Brimble Rail's Plasser track machines, a BDS-100 ballast distributor and profiler and an 09-3X track tamper.

Wednesday 28 June 2023

RailFirst EL class delivered to Rio Tinto's Paperbark Siding.

On Sunday the 25th of June 2023 the RailFirst EL class locomotives EL 51 'Might and Power' and EL 64 'Super Impose' completed their road journey from Parkeston (Kalgoorlie) to the Rio Tinto's Koodaideri (Gudai-Darri) mine railway line via Auski (Munjina) Roadhouse and were placed on Rio rails at the backtrack spur at Paperbark Siding, approx. 300 kilometres south of Port Hedland.

EL 51 'Might and Power' is the class leader, while and EL 64 'Super Impose' is the final member of the fourteen GE model C30-8 locomotives built by Goninan NSW between July 1990 and October 1991 for the then Federal Government operator Australian National.

EL 51 with serial number 8013-07/90-103 was delivered in July 1990 and originally named 'Bob Brown', after the Australian Labor politician who was the Minister for Land Transport at the time of delivery.

EL 64 with serial number 8013-07/90-116 was delivered in October 1991.

The EL class were transferred to National Rail upon start up in 1994 of the new national carrier and later, following delivery of new locomotives were subsequently returned to Australian National and then stored by 1997. In 1998 they were sold to CFCLA and rebuilt by Goninan and entered CFCLA lease service. CFCLA is now known as RailFirst, or Rail First Asset Management.

The locos and some ballast hoppers, along with some Brimble Rail track machines are expected to be at Rio for up to twelve months at this stage. The initial works are remediating the recently competed Koodaideri line.

Thursday 22 June 2023

EL class locomotives Pilbara bound.

Two RailFirst EL class locomotives were transhipped from rail to road floats at Parkeston WA on the 22nd of June 2023. They arrived in to Parkeston predawn on SCT's interstate service 2MP9.
The two EL class units are Goninan built C30-8 GE models, EL 51 serial number 8013-07 / 90-103, and EL 64 serial number 8013-10 / 91-116.

They will join eight former ARTC ballast waggons, CHRX class, which have also been road hauled to the Pilbara from Port Augusta / Spencer Junction.

The units are to be used for remedial ballast works on Rio Tinto's relatively new Koodaideri line.

A data sheet on the locomotives can be found on the RailFirst website, along with a data sheet for the CHRX ballast waggons.

Sunday 11 June 2023

FMG arvo action 1st June 2023.

Well, finally have my trusty Canon EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM back from repair after serval months since failing during September 2022. So, a test arvo out at my favourite FMG hack spot was undertaken.

First train of the arvo was FMG's EMD SD70ACe/P6 unit 725 serial number 20188761-004 leading stablemate SD70ACe/LCi unit 707 serial number 20118611-007 and General Electric 9-44CW unit 002 serial number 58179 as the triple header departs the port with an empty train for the mines. 1600 hrs 1st of June 2023.
The above image was taken at 300 mm, or full zoom, settings were an ISO of 250 and shutter of 1/640th with an aperture of F9 and handheld, pretty happy with the results as it matches the performance I experienced with the lens prior to the failure.

The above image was taken at 60 mm, settings were an ISO of 250 and shutter of 1/640th with an aperture of F9. Slightly brightened and some contrast.

Second movement of the arvo was the port pilot shunting out and back to allow another empty train to depart the port. The pilot locos were EMD SD70ACe/LCi 711 serial number 20118693-003 and GE rebuild AC44C6M 106 serial number 50634 with compressor car set CC005.
I took this shot out wide to show some of the industrial hardware that surrounds the port areas around Port Hedland. The power lines that crisscross the landscape also pass under the rail corridor. Photo detail was 50 mm at ISO 250 with a shutter of 1/800th and an aperture of F7.1.

The final movement for the arvo was a double header with FMG's EMD SD70ACe/P6 class leader locomotive 722 serial number 20188761-001 leading older stablemate SD70ACe/LCi unit 704 with serial number 20118611-004 departing the port with an empty train for the mines at 1638 hrs on the 1st of June 2023.
Taken in the golden hour before sunset, image taken at 50 mm at ISO 250 with a shutter of 1/640th and an aperture of F8.

Thursday 11 May 2023

Pilbara Rail's C36-7M units stored at Seven Mile.

These two C36-7M units are rumoured to be getting scrapped shortly. They have been sitting here on a spur within the Seven Mile complex for many years, since ~2009.

History - 5051 [Bill] started life for Mount Newman Mining as an ALCo C636 model originally numbered 5461 and built by AE Goodwin (NSW) in 1969 with serial number G-6035-2. In 1987, in a world first, eight ALCo C636 locomotives were rebuilt into GE C36-7 units, with everything above the frame new, and the bogies and fuel tanks remaining ALCo. 5461 was rebuilt by Goninan at their Welshpool WA plant into 5507 with new serial number4839-03/87-072. 5507 went on to carry several names, in 1991 the original name was transposed with 5506 following repainting from Mt Newman orange to BHP blue, then other changes took place. When delivered 5507 carried Ethel Creek. Then 5507, once wearing BHP livery carried Mt Whaleback, then Corunna Downs and finally Nimingarra. 5507 along with the entire C36-7M fleet were retired in 1999 after the new AC6000CW locomotives were delivered. After a period of storage at Nelson Point, then the Flashbutt yard, and then back to Nelson Point, they were sold, four units to Goninan and four units to Asset Kinetics.

5507 has the distinction of carrying four names for Mt Newman / BHP Iron Ore and two liveries, and then a further livery once overhauled and leased to Pilbara Rail as 5051 when used as a yard pilot loco in the striking Pilbara Rail livery operating out of Dampier's Seven Mile yard with sister loco 5052 [Ben] which is an overhauled 5508.

***Postscript, I have been informed, on the 8th of June 2023, that both 5051 and 5052 have now been moved to the 2 Mile yard, no doubt scrapping them is easier there.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

New ore waggon deliveries for BHP.

A few of the new deliveries of 88 waggons for BHP from CRRC Qiqihar (China) back in late March.
Capacity 137.7 tonnes
Tare 22.3 tonnes
Volume 63m3

Saturday 1 April 2023

BHP loaded and empty meet at Boodarie.

A BHP empty train led by a pair of EMD SD70ACe locomotives bombs a loaded arrival at Boodarie Yard.

BHP's EMD SD70ACe units 4438 'Rail Runner' serial number 20128866-007 and the current highest numbered unit 4497 serial number 20198860-006 lead their empty rake towards Bing along the west mainline having just passed signal BES5.

Both 4438 'Rail Runner' and 4497 were built by Progress Rail at their Muncie facility with 4438 being delivered in 2013 and 4497 delivered in 2020.

Port Hedland has a lot of road over rail bridges, these photos are taken from one on the realigned Great Northern Highway around the back of Wedgefield located over Boodarie Yard, then the Wallwork Road overbridge is visible in the distance of these photos. There is the overbridge beyond the Wallwork Rd bridge for Buttweld Road which is between Goldsworthy Junction and the rail welding facility on the BHP line, the new bridge being built on the Broome Road to carry the road again over the BHP line at the 12 km, the original Redbank Bridge for Wilson Street over the BHP entry to Hedland Yard, the overbridge on the Great Northern Highway which passes over the top of the FMG lines between their Kanyirri Yard and the port and yet another bridge further out to carry the Great Northern Highway over the Roy Hill line.

BHP SD70ACe units 4414 serial number 20118685-012 was built at Progress Rail's Muncie plant and delivered in 2013, while 4329 'Pilbara' serial number 20066862-058 was originally built in 2008 as part of an order for BNSF and should have been BNSF 9187, one of a batch of ten such units delivered as standard US domestic units in an all orange BNSF base livery. The ten units were later all upgraded to standard BHP specifications for leads units like the rest of the fleet. The load is running the east mainline while another couple of SD70ACe units idle away in the loco spur off No. 1 Road Boodarie.
31st of March 2023.

Friday 31 March 2023

Rio Tinto loaded ore train north of Arches, 8135, 8159 and 8177.

A loaded Rio Tinto iron ore train running to Cape Lambert near the 22-kilometre post north of Arches on the east mainline of the duplicated original Robe River line. The train is also passing an empty Robe Valley train sitting on the west mainline, another empty is sitting in Arches on the west, with a loaded south of Arches awaiting a path north.

Motive power is triple General Electric ES44DCi locomotives. 8135 serial number 59138, 8159 serial number 60223 and 8117 serial number 59109.

The outside blue lights on the lead locomotive being lit indicate this train is operating in AutoHaul™.

The waggons are from the 'pooled' fleet that runs on the Tom Price line. These waggons are also slowly being introduced to the Robe Valley operations.

Filmed Tuesday 28th of March 2023.

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Rio Tinto empty iron ore 'J' Train at Western Creek 9136, 8119 and 9144

An empty Rio Tinto iron ore train at the 71-kilometre, Western Creek on the west mainline, headed up by triple General Electric locomotives being an ES44ACi unit 9136 serial number 64726, ES44DCi unit 8119 serial number 59111 and ES44ACi unit 9144 serial number 64734 with 168 Robe Valley waggons, also known as a J Train. The instrumented waggons were at positions 61 and 140. This train is operating on the original Robe River system.
Tuesday 28th of March 2023.

Sunday 26 March 2023

Loaded FMG train waits line clear beside Kanyirri Yard.

late in the afternoon at 1750 hrs on the 24th of March a loaded FMG train behind AC44C6M unit 109 and SD70ACe/LCi unit 715 await line clear into the port and one of the car dumpers as it sits beside Kanyirri Yard which is the trip service facility for the FMG locomotive fleet.

A more side on shot shows three units also ready to depart the service facility, SD70ACe/P6 unit 729, AC44C6M 105 and 9-44CW 002.

Monday 20 March 2023

FMG AC44C6M units delivered to site by K+S Heavy Haulage.

On the 23rd of February 2023, K+S Heavy Haulage delivered some of FMG's AC44C6M locomotives. A pair of 685 horsepower Mack Titan's towing Drake 11x8 floats (capacity 275 tonnes) with 2x8 dollys delivered the second and third batches of the Wabtec AC44C6M rebuilds. Units 113 to 122 are the second batch, while 123 to 128 are the third batch. With the twelve units delivered in July 2022, this now makes up a roster of 28 AC44C6M locomotives within FMG's motive power fleet.

The AC44C6M units are all rebuilds from ex-lease BNSF 9-44CW units which were returned to GECX and rebuilt at Wabtec's Fort Worth, Texas facility. As part of the rebuild, the units still carry their original build dates and serial numbers. They received a new cab, conversion from DC to AC traction, new hood section and these FMG units also received new radiator sections similar to the export ES44DCi and ES44ACi units.

FMG AC44C6M 113 at Quartz Quarry Rd enroute to FMG's Thomas Yard on a Drake 275 tonne 8x11 float. 113 was rebuilt from BNSF 9-44CW unit 4849 with serial number 50703 and build date of 08/1998.

FMG AC44C6M 122 on Wilson Street, Port Hedland with the Port Authority control tower in the background enroute to FMG's Thomas Yard transported by K+S Heavy Haulage with a Mack 685 HP Titan, an 8x4 dolly and a Drake 275 tonne 8x11 float. 122 was rebuilt from BNSF 9-44CW unit 4774 with serial number 50628 and build date of 06/1998.

FMG AC44C6M 125 leaves the Port Authority as it rounds the corner off Gilbert St onto Wedge St with the Dampier Salt stacker and pile behind it. Transported by K+S Heavy Haulage with a Mack 685 HP Titan, an 8x4 dolly and a Drake 275 tonne 8x11 float. 125 was rebuilt from BNSF 9-44CW unit 4788 with serial number 50642 and build date of 07/1998.

FMG AC44C6M 118 leaves the Port Authority as it rounds the corner off Gilbert St onto Wedge St with the Dampier Salt dozer and salt pile behind it. Transported by K+S Heavy Haulage with a Mack 685 HP Titan, an 8x4 dolly and a Drake 275 tonne 8x11 float. 118 was rebuilt from BNSF 9-44CW unit 4809 with serial number 50663 and build date of 07/1998.

A full roster of FMG's motive power fleet, including these units can be found here.

FMG's 701 and 105 lead a loaded at the 5 km.

EMD SD70ACe/LCi class leader 701 'T155-Glen Davies' serial number 20118611-001 leads AC44C6M unit 105 rebuilt from former BNSF 9-44CW unit 4826 with serial number 50680 at the 5 km post as they arrive at the port for unloading.

701 has the T155 motif on the cab lefthand side, and a plate 'Glen Davies' on the righthand side.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Comparision between the HO scale, and the real FMG 9-44CW unit 003.

Some images of the real FMG 9-44CW unit 003 as delivered in November 2007 against some images of the same locomotive number 003 from Athearn in HO scale as a part of their Genesis 2 range which also included a number of US class one railroads.


Front on images of the prototype General Electric 9-44CW Fortescue Metals Group 003 on the left, and the Athearn Genesis HO scale model of the same unit on the right.


LHS images with the prototype on the left and the model on the right.

LHS cab view with the prototype on the left and the model on the right.

For a full review of this model, see the February 2023 edition of Australian Model Railway Magazine.

Athearn Genesis FMG 9-44CW model axles.

A quick video of the Athearn Genesis 9-44CW FMG unit on the rolling road showing the rotating bearing caps.

Thursday 9 March 2023

Athearn's model of the FMG 9-44CW units as delivered back in 2007.

Athearn Genesis 2.0 HO scale models of FMG 9-44CW units

Finally got around to 'commissioning' my three FMG 9-44CW Athearn Genesis DCC models and assigning their addresses and testing that the functions work etc.

The Athearn models were released last year, and they did three road numbers for FMG in both DC and DCC being 003, 007 and 014. The DCC models feature a SoundTraxx Tsunami2 decoder and dual sugar cube speakers.

The models are based off of the FMG 9-44CW units as they were delivered, and they sure look nothing like this today! Apart from rust and faded paint, the units have received marker lights, gates in the long hood handrails and raised extensions to the handrails where maintainers need to access the top of the 7FDL-16 prime mover, kickplates along the bottom of the handrails and modified handrails on the cab steps, amongst other minor details.

Athearn Genesis 9-44CW FMG 014

014 side view, details are crisp and well defined, and paint looks really good.

Athearn Genesis 9-44CW FMG 003

FMG 003 with the ditch lights, number boards and headlights burning bright, notice the step light directly in line with the headlight beside the cab door just above the walkway.

Athearn Genesis 9-44CW FMG 014

Overhead roof view of FMG 014 shows the LHS walkway and handrails, radiator grills, inverter cabinet and air conditioning unit.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Roy Hill fuel train at Great Northern Highway.

Roy Hill's fuel train with four locomotives, three ES44ACi RHA class and one CFCLA CM40-8M

Back on the 17th of January 2018 the Roy Hill loaded fuel train with eleven fuel tank waggons was captured running south at the Great Northern Highway crossing behind no fewer than three RHA class ES44ACi units and one CFCLA CD class lease unit CD 4302 'Lord Fury' which was under test during the run.

Roy Hill fuel train RHA 1018 RHA1019 CD 4302 RHA 1013

The locomotives are RHA 1018, RHA 1019, CD 4302 'Lord Fury' and RHA 1013.

Roy Hill fuel train RHA 1018 RHA1019 CD 4302 RHA 1013

Monday 6 March 2023

FMG AC44C6M units delivered to site.

On the 23rd of February 2023, K+S Heavy Haulage delivered some of FMG's AC44C6M locomotives. A 685 horsepower Mack Titan delivers 125 (from the third batch of rebuilds 123-128) across the BHP Iron Ore Boodarie overpass enroute to FMG's Thomas Yard for placing onto rails.

A total of 16 units were delivered off the heavy lift vessel Miena Desgagnes at Port Hedland on the 4, 5 and 6th of February.

Following quarantine inspection, they were delivered to site during the 22-25 February.

125 was originally BNSF 4788 built in July 1998 as a 9-44CW with serial number 50642 as a DC traction unit.

Rebuilt by Wabtec at their Fort Worth Texas plant the units received new cabs, new hood sections, AC traction and inverter packages and an oil and radiator section very similar to the ES44DCi and ACi units of Rio Tinto and Roy Hill.

Sunday 5 March 2023

G'day from

Due to some problems with our blog being really outdated and unable to do many functions due to age and being unsupported we have moved the blog over to the popular Blogger site.

New address is here:

It will also be visible through the original website link of:

The new site allows us to also blog more easier, include more images per post and tie the entire site and social media together.

We look forward to taking you with us.

Over the last couple of days all old posts and comments have been migrated across to this platform.

Thank you,
Pilbara Railways Team, Toad, Roland and the others.

BHP AC6000 6074 at Nelson Point.

Back in happier times on the 9th of September 2003 BHP Iron Ore's General Electric AC6000 unit 6074 'Kalgan' with serial number 51066 waits with a loaded rake for Car Dumper 2 at Nelson Point.

The remaining seven AC6000 units were all subsequently scrapped in October 2014. 6070 was scrapped in May 2011 following a derailment at Turner Siding.