Imperial College have apparently released a report detailing how British railways could be powered by solar panels.
The Renewable Traction Power project will plug track-side solar panels into trackside substations, where trains can directly use the generated electricity.
Demand for traction power from railways is said to be increasing. Railway operators could be supplied with power that is both lower cost and much cleaner than grid-supplied electricity. Imperial outline how solar traction power is both technically feasible and commercially attractive under today’s market conditions, with the scheme being potentially operational by 2020.
The saving is estimated at £4.5 million annually. The report says this “could” result in reduced fares for customers – although in our experience, and with fares pegged to the Retail Price Index, any financial savings would go into Southeastern’s profits.
The proposal is apparently that the solar panels are alongside the tracks, rather than on the roofs of the trains. At least this should mean that the trains don’t grind to a halt when they enter Polhill tunnel!