Byron Bay Railroad Company has restored a derelict heritage train, repaired three kilometres of railway line and a bridge and reinvigorated and consequently preserved a section of an out of action rail corridor to provide a heritage rail service linking two key Byron Bay centres.

The train operates purely on energy from the sun. 23% of the energy generated from solar panels on the train shed roof feeding the onboard batteries powers the train, along with power generated by panels on the roof of the train itself. The remaining 77% is fed into the grid to power the local community via a green energy provider. The train is also fitted with regenerative braking, which uses braking energy to also recharge the batteries as the train slows down.

This is a world-first truly solar train and Byron Bay Railroad Company is proud to bring this technology to Byron Bay.

Byron Bay Railroad Company was awarded the 2018 Rail Sustainability award at the Australasian Rail Association Awards in recognition of the work done to re-use infrastructure and rolling stock and to bring to life the world’s first solar-powered conventional train.

Solar power

One of the two diesel engines has been removed and replaced with a pair of electric traction motors and associated traction inverters and equipment and a Lithium-ion battery bank. Special curved solar panels have been fitted to the roof of both carriages which between them collect and generate up to 6.5kW of solar power to charge the train’s batteries. There is also a large array of solar PV panels on the train storage shed roof capable of producing up to a further 30kW which can be connected by cables to top up the train’s batteries. The train is also equipped with a regenerative braking system that turns the traction motors into generators during braking to recharge the batteries.

All the equipment on the train is powered from the Lithium-ion batteries including traction power, lighting, air compressors and control circuits. To reduce electrical consumption all lighting has been replaced with LEDs.


Our train has been modified to have a single Cummins 14 litre NT855 diesel engine, which is renowned within the industry as a clean-burning engine.

One of the two diesel engines has been removed and the other remains on board for weight and balance and also to provide an emergency back up in case of an electrical fault. The remaining diesel engine is not required for normal operation, even in cases of prolonged lack of sunshine.

“They are and always have been one of the cleanest burning and fuel efficient diesel engines, which is one of the main reasons why the NSW Government, at great cost to the public purse, replaced all the Detroit and Rolls Royce engines with Cummins on all diesel railcars”. 

Tim Elderton, Managing Director, Lithgow Railway Workshop


Use of resources

The 40 metre wide rail corridor running parallel to the Byron coast lay fallow for 13 years. We revitalised this historically significant railway line, making it once again an important transport corridor. With the assistance of Lithgow State Mine Railway and Lithgow Railway Workshop we restored to operating condition a 1949 heritage rail car that had been out of action for twenty-five years. A slightly newer 1962 heritage railcar that had been out of service for 10 years was also restored to provide a two car set. We further restored, at our expense, the state owned railway track and bridge to once again safely carry passenger trains.


Belongil Creek Railway Bridge after restoration by Byron Bay Railroad Company

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