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Rio Replacing Train Drivers Paid Like U.S. Surgeons

Train drivers employed by Rio Tinto Group to haul iron ore across Australia’s outback make about the same money as surgeons in the U.S. It’s little wonder the mining company will replace them with robot locomotives.

The 400-plus workers in the remote Pilbara region who earn about A$240,000 ($224,000) a year probably are the highest-paid train drivers in the world, according to U.K.-based transport historian Christian Wolmar. Australia’s decade-long mining boom has sucked up skilled workers, raising wages for engineers to drivers at Rio, the second-largest exporter of the mineral, and its closest competitors, Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd.