The train, which features restored vintage carriages with flexible solar panels on their roofs, will travel between its solar-charging train station and a resort property in Byron Bay in Australia.
The solar train features a 6.5kW solar array comprised of flexible solar panels on the roofs of the carriages, which can together carry up to 100 passengers at a time. The rooftop solar array will feed into the onboard 77kWh battery, which also gets partially charged between trips by the station's solar array.
According to RenewEconomy, the battery is about the same capacity as that in a Tesla Model S, but the solar train only requires about 4kWh to travel each leg of the trip.
The train was originally intended to be put into service as a diesel unit, but after "a fair bit of community resistance" to the idea of having a diesel train running there, the company explored the option of using an electric drive system coupled with a solar charging station, and found it to be a feasible alternative.
All of the train's systems, including traction power, lighting, control circuits, and air compressors, are powered by solar (via the battery), which the company believes qualifies it "as a world first." The Byron Bay solar train also includes one of the original two diesel engines as an emergency backup in the event of a fault in the electric drive system.