The world’s first solar-powered railway is to be built in Britain under plans to cut the network’s running costs while generating profits for local communities. Just over 100 miles of line in south Wales will be partially powered by renewable energy as part of a project to decarbonise the railways. It is hoped that the development — the first time that solar has been used to power overhead rail lines anywhere in the world — will eventually be replicated in other parts of the UK where the electrification of lines has been undermined by high costs. The move may lead to the reopening of some branch lines closed under the Beeching cuts in the 1960s. Up to 25 possible sites have been identified alongside the Core Valley and Ebbw Vale lines north of Cardiff to build solar farms. Wind energy may also be used. The solar panels would be financed and installed by local communities often in the form of a co-operative society which would own the asset and provide the power to the railway. Commercial returns would be retained locally and invested in community groups.
Times 13th Dec 2019 read more »