Along Australia’s coasts, a cleaner train awaits for a quick ride.
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.