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A specially converted Toyota LandCruiser 79 Series is helping maintain Australia’s largest private railway.

Pilbara Iron (a member of the Rio Tinto Group) uses the LandCruiser to monitor its 636 kilometres of heavy duty standard-gauge railway.

The hi-rail LandCruiser has hydraulically operated retractable rail wheels, to allow the vehicle to run on standard gauge rail tracks.

Pilbara Iron’s rail system is one of the world’s largest privately constructed, owned and operated rail systems, linking nine iron ore mines with port facilities at Dampier and Cape Lambert.

Pilbara Rail Company (PRC) operates and maintains the combined rail assets of Pilbara Iron.

The network extends across some of the most inhospitable terrain in Australia to Yandicoogia in the east and south to Paraburdoo.

It includes ship-loading facilities at Cape Lambert, Parker Point and East Intercourse Island.

The trains are among the heaviest and longest in the world.

Each is an average of 2.2km long, consisting of three 3225kW locomotives and 232 wagons - giving a total ore capacity of approximately 24,000 tonnes.

“With export contracts to meet, the rail maintenance standards are second to none - hence the important role for the Hi-Rail LandCruiser and its crew,” said Geoff Neil, Pilbara Rail’s Chief Operating Officer.

“The rail system is an integral part of the production process, and vital to the company’s success.

“The rail schedule is the key to collecting ore from various sites in the correct quantities and time frames - so it can be blended at the port to create high-quality, consistent ore.

“It’s the most advanced freight-only rail system in Australia, with leading edge features such as computer-based in-cab signalling and a centralised traffic control system in Dampier.”

Pilbara Iron’s main rail system was built in 1966 to link Hamersley Iron’s Mount Tom Price mine with the port of Dampier.

Spur lines were added as the Paraburdoo, Marandoo, Brockman and Yandi mines were developed. The system grew again in 2000, with the addition of Robe River Iron Associates’ Pannawonica and West Angelas mines and their associated rail infrastructure.

Toyota’s LandCruiser 79 Series maintains the workhorse model's legendary reliability and durability.

It offers the choice of diesel and Turbo-diesel engine and two equipment grades, all with coil-spring front suspension and long-leaf rear suspension.

Pilbara Iron's Tom Taniora with the hi-rail LandCruiser used to monitor the company’s 636 kilometres of heavy duty standard-gauge railway.