Engineering and civil construction company John Holland has bagged a $257 million contract to build almost 350 kilometres of railway for Gina’ Rinehart’s Roy Hill Iron Ore project in Western Australia.

In its latest announcement, the Leighton subsidiary says it has been chosen to build a 344-kilometre single heavy haulage line which will transport processed iron ore through remote terrain from the Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara region to purpose built export facilities at Port Kembla.

The contract represents the rail segment of the broader Roy Hill project which, with deposits of 2.4 billion tonnes of iron ore deposits, will represent a 55 million tonne per annum development over a lifespan of more than 20 years.

In addition to the railway, the contract calls for the development of a mine, a processing plant, port facilities and additional infrastructure including an airport and accommodation for 3,600 construction workers and 2,000 operational staff.

The project, which is expected to ship its first output in 2015, is 70 per cent owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting.

John Holland Group managing director Glenn Palin says the contract win came against strong international competition and was further evidence of the group’s strength in rail.

Aside from the latest contract, the group is part of an alliance which is undertaking the sinking of the Fremantle Line as part of the Perth City Link Rail Project and is working on two work packages as part of the Regional Rail Link project in Victoria.

“John Holland has been a market leader in rail construction in Australia for over 30 years, with approximately $3 billion of rail-related projects in hand,” Palin said.

The latest contract is expected to last two years, with work commencing in 2013, and will involve a peak construction workforce of 270. John Holland was awarded the contract by Samsung C&T, which is in charge of building the processing plant as well as the rail and port infrastructure for the Roy Hill project.

It involves work to the main line, marshalling yard, mine loading loop, port, port loading loop, wayside loops and spurs and construction yard as well as a logistics yard and ballast yards.

Once operational, the lines will handle five trains per day, each consisting of three locomotives hauling 232 ore cars with a total payload of 31,450 tonnes of ore.