The railway industry as we know it could all be about to change, as construction of the world’s first solar-powered train line gets underway.
A new pilot scheme has been launched in Hampshire that will see 100 solar panels providing renewable electricity to signals and lights, the Evening Standard reported recently.
It will be used on Network Rail’s Wessex route near Aldershot, and represents the first time power using solar energy will be plugged directly into the railway system by-passing the electricity grid.
Stuart Kistruck, director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, stated: “We have ambitions to roll this technology out further across the network should this demonstrator project prove successful, so we can deliver a greener, better railway for our passengers and the wider public.”
Riding Sunbeams estimates that solar power could be the future for the railway industry, as it could potentially power one-fifth of the Merseyrail network and 15 per cent of train routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. It is also already used to provide electricity for a few stations around the UK, such as London’s Blackfriars.
Network Rail is also currently investing in electrifying railway lines around the country to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and cut the number of trains running on diesel.
In April this year, it revealed it had electrified power lines on the eastern side of Manchester Victoria station in preparation for electric trains across the north-west.
It hopes this will help it dramatically lower its greenhouse emissions, which will help the environment.
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