Arc Infrastructure, the company responsible for Western Australia’s rail network, has presented its new autonomous rail container wagon, the Hiivr Rail, to government and industry representatives. 

The presentation at the Kenwick Rail Freight Facility showcased a prototype of the technology, which is designed to allow containers to move directly from a vessel to a network of intermodal freight terminals. 

Work on developing the autonomous wagon has been taking place over the last three years, with Arc working with the region’s Westport project, which will move container trade from Fremantle to Kwinana, in mind. 

Arc Infrastructure CEO Murray Cook said: “Westport presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design a port with capability to support emerging technologies which represent the evolution of freight transportation. 

“Hiivr Rail is an exciting new concept that allows us to reimagine the freight supply chain to meet Western Australia’s needs through the 21st century.”

The next stage of development for the tech will see it used in mainline trials next year, with a focus on integrating the wagon with Arc’s existing train control systems in continue collaboration with Arc’s technology partner Parallel Systems, which developed the Hiivr Rail prototype. 

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By GlobalData

Alongside its possible use in Westport, the company highlighted another expected benefit of the tech to Western Australia, saying that the wagons could be constructed at the region’s Bellevue Railcar Assemble Facility to strengthen rail manufacturing in the state. 

Westport Managing Director Patrick Seares said: “Our Landside Logistics Opportunity Study from 2022 identified the autonomous wagon concept as a potential future innovation. 

“We have now built the modelling tools to test different technologies in the supply chain and will examine autonomous rail wagons as part of the innovation strategy leading into the next stage of Westport.” 

The reveal of the technology continued a year of activity for the region’s rail industry, coming the same week that Western Australia’s government revealed A$998,000 ($654,700) in funding for a new Rail Collaboration Centre in Karratha from its Local Manufacturing Investment Fund. 

In November, US rail manufacturer Wabtec unveiled a specially designed version of its FLXdrive locomotive to be used in Western Australia’s hot climate by mining company Roy Hill.