Byron Bay on Australia’s east coast is a small town that used to attract surfers, beachgoers and fishermen, but today it is a tourist destination on its own right. So many tourists have discovered the magnificent natural environment of Byron Bay that a train company has built a rail track that connects the town’s two primary beaches. The train that uses the track is entirely powered by solar energy.
Byron Bay Railroad Company Ltd that runs the electric train line claims it is the world’s first solar powered full-size train service. Miniature train lines that run on solar power exist in other parts of the world.
Electric trains have been used for a long time, especially, in cities for commuter traffic, but these trains are connected to the electric grid (usually) via an air cable.
The solar powered train in Byron Bay runs like a shuttle service. The rail track is three kilometers long, and takes about 10 minutes to complete. The only stations are located at both ends of the track: North Beach station in Sunrise Beach and the Byron Beach platform in Byron Bay town.
A video clip below shows the train and the beautiful green landscape in Byron Bay:
The solar train has been is traffic since December 2017. It is in operation seven days a week from 10 am until 5 pm.
The train draws power from three sources. When it is on the move, solar panels on the roof charge on-board batteries that power the electric engine. When the train brakes, energy generated from the process is saved just like hybrid cars do. When the train is at the station, its batteries are charged from large solar panels on the roof of the station building.
Two backup mechanisms ensure the train moves when it is supposed to move even if it had been raining for a couple of days: at the station, the train can be connected to the electric grid and batteries are charged from the network. If the power from the train’s batteries runs out during a journey, a backup diesel engine can drive the train home.