Byron shire residents have again questioned whether a planned solar-powered rail service for Byron Bay will be realistic.
Byron Bay Railroad Company (BBRC) plans to run a rail service from near the Sun Bistro on Bayshore Drive into Byron’s CBD, and is expecting to begin the service in April.
Belongil Action Group Association (BAGA) and the Sunrise Progress Association (SPA) have told The Echo that they engaged a ‘specialist environmentally sustainable design engineer’ to assess the validity of the claims the train could be solar powered.
A statement by the group says their expert, Chris Trayes from Enertec, a mechanical and electrical consultant, says that ‘energy saved from the solar panels and the regenerative braking is a ‘furphy’ if the train operated 100 times per day.’
‘We have used this figure as the basis of Mr Trayes’ calculations because of the developer’s verbal confirmation to representatives of BAGA during a meeting in October 2016 that the train could operate up to four or five times per hour if the demand required it (ie more than 120 trips per day). However, for the purpose of these calculations we will base the figures on 100 trips per day.
‘Mr Trayes estimates that, at best, the solar panels and regenerative braking system will only account for 35–40 per cent of the total power required, and that the rest of the power will come from the diesel engine that is installed in the train. However, in reality, if the system is less than ideal in its construction and maintenance, it will only contribute 25 per cent.’
But Elements of Byron resort general manager Jeremy Holmes, who is overseeing the train project, told The Echo, ‘We do not intend to run the train 100 times per day. There simply will never be that level of demand. What we have proposed is a return hourly service initially, which is 28 one-way trips.’
‘Byron Bay Railroad Company will shortly publish more details regarding the solar conversion, including further technical explanation, via byronbaytrain.com.au