Do something different on your next trip to Byron Bay by riding along the scenic 3km coastal track between Byron town centre and the up and coming North Beach precinct on an immaculately restored heritage train.
The Byron Bay Railroad Company has lovingly restored a derelict heritage train and transformed it into the world’s first solar powered train. The train runs from North Byron to Byron Beach and takes 10 minutes one way or 25 minutes return – it’s a fun and scenic ride for the whole family.
The train runs every day except Christmas Day and you’ll ride in style on a beautifully restored 1949 era two carriage train. The Byron Bay Railroad Company has paid just as much attention to the inside of the train as they have to the outside. If you choose first class, you’ll be seated on vintage lounge seats as you pass through the stunning scenery of the coastal wetlands and Belongil Creek, part of the Cape Byron Marne Park. The train has capacity for 92 passengers and there’s also plenty of room for prams, bikes, surfboards and luggage.
Along with restoring the heritage train carriages, the Byron Bay Railroad Company also repaired three kilometres of railway line and a bridge to see the project come to fruition. You can tell the project has been a real labour of love.
How does it work?
In a world first, the train is net carbon positive, meaning it generates more energy than needed to run the service. Around 73% of the energy generated from solar panels on the train and train storage shed is fed into the grid and the remainder is used to operate the train.
To achieve this, one of the two diesel engines was removed from the train and replaced with a pair of electric traction motors and a Lithium-ion battery bank. Curved solar panels have been fitted to the roof of both carriages which between them collect and generate enough power to charge the train’s batteries. There is also a large array of solar 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.
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.
Along for the ride
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at Elements of Byron Resort or at Sunrise Beach, you can board the train at North Beach Station and ride the train to Byron Beach Station which is within walking distance of anywhere in the town centre, as well as Main Beach and Belongil Beach.
To make the Solar Train more of a full-day activity, you can also buy the Ride in Style package ($28 AUD) which includes a return adult train ticket, lunch or dinner and a schooner of Stone & Wood, or a glass of wine at The Sun Bistro, close to North Beach Station.
The 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 bring to life the world’s first solar-powered conventional train.
Address: Bayshore Dr, Byron Bay NSW 2481