World’s First Solar Train Running in Australia

The world’s first solar power train has gone on its inaugural run. It doesn’t go very far but the Australian Byron Bay Railroad will begin making regular solar-powered journeys in January 2018.

Byron Bay, New South Wales, is located in eastern Australia and is known as a surfer and backpacker’s paradise with a population of around 5,000. The new train service covers 1.8 miles (3 km) between the city’s center and its North Beach district. It’s part of a longer 82 mile (132 km) line connecting Australia’s Northern Rivers region north of the capital Sydney.

What the solar powered lacks in distance it makes for in style. A 1949 refurbished ‘red rattler,’ the train uses custom-built curved solar panels on its roof and can carry 100 passengers.

“We searched the country and found a dilapidated vintage train, restored it, and are now powering it with a 4.6 billion-year-old power source,” says Jeremy Holmes, Byron Bay Railroad Company’s development director in a press statement.

Towns in New South Wales get over 200 sunny days a year, but when the sun isn’t out it can charge in a special shed.

On the chance of prolonged cloudy weather, the train has on-board batteries that it charges with local green energy sources. And in case of prolonged lousy weather and an electrical failure, the train also a diesel engine on board as a last-case scenario. “Due to the fact that the track is level with only one small curve, the train can run on a minimal amount of energy with the engine idle most of the time,” the train’s website states.

The world’s cheapest energy source, solar energy is being used in vastly different ways around the globe. From refugees to vintage trains, expect to see a lot more of it in the near future.