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On 10 July the world’s first fully autonomous, long-distance heavy-haul rail movement was run by miner Rio Tinto from Tom Price to port on the Western Australia coast. Carrying some 28,000t of iron ore, the unmanned train was managed remotely by controllers in the company’s operations centre 1500km away in Perth. In preparation for the 24 November state election, Melbourne was almost overwhelmed with rail and light rail plans in September and October – some planned, others unsolicited. These included the state government released an ambitious 30-year, $50 billion plan to build a circle line linking every suburban train line and Melbourne Airport, the entire project being dependent on the Labor government being re-elected. At the same time, the rail lobby group Rail Futures Institute unveiled its plan for Melbourne’s transport future covering from now until 2050, designed to change the existing radial rail network to a cross-city grid network. Australian rail suppliers, operators and organisations showcased their combined capability to more than 161,000 attendees at the world’s biggest trade fair for railway technology, InnoTrans 2018, in Berlin, Germany, in September. The Australasian Railway Association led a delegation of more than 30 companies collaborating to present the Australian Rail Industry pavilion in one of the event's main buildings.

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