Byron Bay Railroad Company, operated by mining executive Brian Flannery, is about to launch the world’s first solar-powered train in time for Christmas.
While other trains around the world have utilised solar power for lighting and ventilation, this one will be fully powered by the sun using PV modules on the roof.
Operating on part of the disused Casino-to-Murwillumbah line, the train will travel three kilometres each way from Byron Bay to North Beach, just near Elements of Byron resort, which is also owned by Mr Flannery.
“We had approval two years ago to run the train as a diesel service, however, in December we decided to convert to solar,” Byron Bay Railroad Company spokesperson Jeremy Holmes said.
“Technology had advanced rapidly and so we accelerated the conversion.”
The train is fitted with flexible solar panels and a 77kW solar battery on board. The train shed in north Byron has a 30kW solar array that will supply the grid when not recharging the train. The train also has a back-up diesel engine for emergencies.
“Even if the sun doesn’t shine for a prolonged period the train battery can be charged from mains power using certified Green Power,” Mr Holmes said.
The service will initially run 14 round trips a day from 8am to 10pm, with extra services added for events such as the Byron Writers’ Festival and the Byron Food and Beverage Festival.