‘Solar train’ proposed for Byron Bay

An image from the company's website showing a solar train.

An image from the company’s website showing a solar train.

Plans are in progress to run a solar-powered train on the rail line into Byron Bay from April 2017.

The project is being run by the Byron Bay Railroad Company (BBRC), the owners of which also own the Elements of Byron resort. BBRC’s original plans to run the train carriage on diesel engines have drawn protests from local residents.

The Echo understands the revamped train will have dual electric engines and a battery pack taking power from curved solar panels on the roof. A diesel engine will still be available for back-up.

BBRC also intends to have a solar array and charging system at the train storage shed.

The new website for the train is It indicates the train will run from Byron Bay to Sunrise with a $3 fare each way.

The old diesel-powered website at has further details on operation, planning approvals and infrastructure.

The Echo searched for solar-powered trains online and the only project we found was one in India. If readers know of others, please let us know.


25 responses to “‘Solar train’ proposed for Byron Bay”

  1. Tim Shanasy says:

    This is appears to be lunacy in false advertising.

    The length of the displayed width of panels would very possibly need to be in excess of the length of the entire 3km service line, to generate the energy needed to operate the BBRC timetable.

    I wonder who, if anyone, will be allowed to audit their (BBRC) claims and have them published.

  2. Sally Packshaw says:

    How sad that only a few will enjoy this! The train is a much needed community resource and needs to operate a much larger route. Imagine a service from Billi to Bangalow via Ocean Shores, Mullumbimby! Imagine all the kids who would use it! Locals need to be put FIRST in our community – for too long it has been tourism, tourism – let’s have a train that services us ALL please (yes – that used to be Byron style).

  3. Greg Byrnes says:

    Hopefully they will work a lot better than the Indian ones:
    “Each solar panel will generate 300 watt of electricity, which means 3.6KW of power per coach. This, the Indian Railways says will be enough to provide electricity for lights and fans inside the coach. However, enough power would not be generated to run air-conditioners.”

    Sounds like a way to quiet down the protests about a diesel train…

  4. Kim Stephan says:

    That’s awesome! How much to go to Murwillumbah?

  5. LIz Poynton says:

    Does the train stop at the industrial estate or Belongil or the caravan park ? Is this a community service ?? There are serious safety concerns remain about the rail crossing at Belongil also. The site has no information.

    • Angie says:

      Liz the service stops at Sunrise /bayshore drive and yes it is open to the community to use. And it will be going very slowly across Kendall st so safe as can be

  6. robin Harrison says:

    Might just call bullshit on this one. Photoshopping way too few solar panels onto an incredibly heavy old diesel train is the ultimate in greenwashing.

  7. Angie says:

    Oh the usual negative critics still aren’t happy lol. Please remember that the “solar train in India” is huge and heavy, compared to the BBRC train which is only 2 carriages and will literally be just rolling into town on 3km of flat track.
    It wont be long before we can see it in action ourselves and yes it is open to the public its not just for the resort guests… Imagine how many people will use it when ewingsdale rd is congested with traffic as it has been this week. Even more would use it if it was extended along the line eg the whole Byron shire and further. Trains are a much more fuel efficient way to travel than by road

  8. Samule Quint says:

    Awesome! We will park on the outskirts and jump the train to town!. Now if they can just extend the service to Stokers Siding our family can ride our pushbikes to the station and jump the train all the way. The rail corridor is a fantastic asset for all to use, this would best be done with, wait for it, a train.

  9. Phil says:

    You would struggle to get 5kw of solar panels on that train roof

    Which limits you to an average of 20kwh per day charging batteries

    Not enough to run the weight of this train probably more than 20km even with regenerative braking

  10. Once again BBRC and Elements are false marketing. What will the solar panels actually run? Internal lights maybe. What a joke. We are not that naive. Pretty disappointed in the BB Council – is an understatement. Do your research folks – a solar train – really!!

  11. Gary Ainsworth says:

    This is fantastic news. I think this has the capacity to be a real tourist attraction, especially now we have solar power to go with. I don’t know about you but this sounds like a much bigger tourist attraction than a rail trail could ever be!

    Soon Byron will be home to the first solar powered train in Australia.

  12. Peter Gough says:

    My reading of the Indian train is that, “the Indian Railways says will be enough to provide electricity for lights and fans inside the coach. However, enough power would not be generated to run air-conditioners.’ There is no mention that the solar panels will run the engine of the train itself. It also states, “all coaches of the train would be lit from power generated by the rooftop solar panels”. It states LIT only!

  13. Paula Cordeiro says:

    I fully support this initiative. Hope that once the train is running, extensions might be considered.

  14. Jenny bannister says:

    Frequency , noise, safety at Kendall st crossing, have not been revealed.
    The train is an A to B trip, no stops along the way.
    Little parking at either end !!!
    Think about it ?
    Get on your bike , it’s quicker and is door to door !!!

    • Peter Hatfield says:

      Thanks you Jenny – a bit of common-sense in the commentary.

    • James says:

      Jenny, not everyone is agile as you may be to ride a bike. Or even have one.

      • Petrus says:

        James How many people between eight and eighty-eight can not ride a bike or other pedal cycle? I have ridden with numerous visually impaired people on tandems, several of whom enjoy it so much they have bought their own. I have ridden with people and know other people who have MS or who have had accidents who cannot walk more than a metre or so, but can happily cycle for 20 or 30 kms on recumbent tricycles. I also have several friends in their eighties who cycle regularly. And are you seriously suggesting there are people in our country who want to cycle but that cannot afford the $50 to $100 cost of buying a bike? For most people the main restraint to taking up cycling is not health or financial issues but the lack of safe separated places to ride. Jenny has pointed out the numerous benefits of cycling – surely it is up to us all to find ways to help those who want to cycle and find it difficult to do so.

  15. James Fulelr says:

    Have any of you considered that it could run electric into the town, and on fossil fuels while actually operating ? This would work well and allay all of the fears. Something like a Prius.

  16. Sunny says:

    More green washing from so called ‘eco resort’. You would need another carriage full of the latest lithium ion batteries to power this 70 ton train only once down the 3km trip. Those panels will power a few lights and there is no time between 15 minute trips to charge from the storage shed. Do they realy think we will believe this nonsense ? lol.

  17. Susie Stock says:

    Canberra light rail to run on 100% renewable energy : Renew Economy
    Jun 23, 2015 – ACT govt says its Capital Metro light rail development will be 100% … cent of the light rail system’s electricity from renewable sources like solar or wind. …. people who can benefit by being able to walk/ride to the train station.

    • Petrus says:

      Canberra’s LR will do nothing to reduce emissions. It will simply displace other users and push up the cost of the renewable energy it uses. That energy will be greater than the buses it replaces as the units are larger and unless they are less frequent will run with fewer patrons than the well patronized bus service. The LR is no closer to homes than the current bus and no faster so there is no reason it will attract any significant increase in walkers and cyclists to station along its route. It wil also not be able to provide the seamless journey from the outer areas of Gungahlin that a rapid bus could, so users from that area will drive further to catch public transport and generate car traffic into Gungahlin town. The ACT LR is a turkey. The ACT government was forced to build this thing by the Greens in the face of criticism from the productivity Commission, the Gratton Institution and its own Auditor general. It has been promoted and endorsed by voters from the articulate well off inner areas but will be paid for by all ratepayers including those in the outer areas who badly need better buses – a shift of spending from the have-nots to the haves. It is a good example of transport policy being driven by a thing – the tram – rather than people’s needs – just as is the case with the proposals to reinstate rail services on the North Coast, which would also skew rural public transport subsidies away from areas of greater need to provide a limited service to one of the wealthiest and most vocal Shires in NSW .

  18. Charles says:

    Why is there a lot of negativity when it comes to using renewable energy? Everything in technology has a beginning. Why not to try these solar energy trains and see how they perform. They may do better than the present diesel (environment polluting) trains.

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