World’s First True Solar Train Could Arrive in Byron Bay This Month
Story by News Ltd.
VOLUNTEER DRIVERS will be among staff at the controls of what is believed to be the world’s first true solar train when it starts rumbling along a restored section of line at Byron Bay.
The Byron Bay Railroad Company says the converted locomotive could be on the track as early as this month.
The company says the tourist train, originally built as a diesel railmotor in 1949 at a Sydney workshop that had manufactured bomber aircraft during the war, is being converted at Lithgow to use electric motors powered by energy generated from solar panels and stored in batteries.
“It’s been fully restored in its heritage colours and is undergoing the solar conversion,’’ said spokesman Jeremy Holmes.
The company shrugged off any concerns about a shortage of available train drivers that has plagued Queensland Rail in its bid to maintain passenger services in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast line.
Mr Holmes said paid positions had been filled, drivers were being trained and volunteers who “love trains and machines’’ were being vetted for positions.
The company website says essential attributes for drivers include being qualified as a locomotive driver, or able to be qualified. “Desirable’’ qualities include being qualified to drive trains in NSW, having a track inspection qualification and having a first aid certificate.
Solar panels have been used to provide power for lights on train services elsewhere in the world, but the company believes its train will be the first to run purely on power generated by the sun. However, the 100-seat train will have a diesel motor as backup.
Panels have also been installed on the station and storage shed built next to the Elements of Byron resort, owned by mining magnate Brian Flannery and his wife Peggy.