South Western Railway Is Looking Into Solar Powered Rail Systems and Has Already Made a Start

By Shabana Arif on at

South Western Rail is working with charity Riding Sunbeams to trial solar powered rail traction systems. Hence the adorable name.

Riding Sunbeams is workign on the project with climate change charity 10:10 to supply power to lights and signalling equipment along the London Waterloo – Alton line, managed by SWR.

Directly supplying solar power to rail traction systems hasn't been done before, but if successful, it could offer all kinds of benefits, from reducing emissions, bypassing power grid issues, and offering incentives to land and property owners in the general vicinity who will be needed to provide a physical space for the panels.

“Solar traction power solves two problems for decentralised renewable energy generation: it provides a new way to finance unsubsidised solar in Britain, and offers a way to circumvent grid capacity constraints,” says the charity. “Meanwhile, it gives rail operators a chance to reduce traction electricity bills, cut carbon emissions and potentially deliver completely new kinds of social benefits to lineside neighbours.”

SWR as already reduced reduced its emissions by over a third over the last year, and that's without the helping hand of Riding Sunbeams, and is firmly on board for the opportunity to save some cash and get some positive press coverage.

"The rail industry plays an important role in reducing carbon emissions. SWR has reduced its emissions by 33% over the last 12 months and is continuing to install renewables, and other technologies, to cut our carbon emissions by 60% overall within the next five years,” said Amelia Woodley, head of sustainability at SWR.

"With the recent passing of net zero emissions legislation in Britain, there’s never been a better time to partner with the Riding Sunbeams to change the way the rail industry responds to this global challenge.” [IRJ]