World's first solar-powered train line is turned on in Hampshire

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A solar farm of more than 100 panels in Hampshire has been plugged into a stretch of track in Hampshire in a world first.  

The stretch of track near Aldershot was today receiving 30kW from a nearby solar farm. 

The renewable electricity will be used to provide energy for the signalling and lights on Network Rail's Wessex route.

It is hoped it can be the first step in establishing the necessary infrastructure for trains that are directly powered by solar energy. 

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Today, a stretch of track near Aldershot was receiving 30kW from a nearby solar farm made of 100 individual panels

Today, a stretch of track near Aldershot was receiving 30kW from a nearby solar farm made of 100 individual panels 

The renewable electricity will be used to provide energy for the signalling and lights on Network Rail's Wessex route

Network Rail is making a big push to move away from diesel-powered locomotives and is electrifying the rails to reduce its carbon footprint. 

The pilot scheme is the brainchild of a joint project between the charity 10:10 Climate Action and Imperial College London.

The research team behind it, dubbed Riding Sunbeams, believes it to be the first example of solar energy being used to power train lines anywhere in the world. 

Leo Murray, Director of Riding Sunbeams, said: 'Matchmaking the UK's biggest electricity user, the railways, with the nation's favourite energy source, solar power, looks like the start of the perfect relationship. 

'Helping to get the railways off fossil fuels in this way will cut running costs and benefit local communities at the same time as helping to tackle the climate crisis.'

Stuart Kistruck, director of route asset management for Network Rail's Wessex Route, said: 'We are proud to be working with 10:10, Community Energy South and our other stakeholders to deliver this exciting world-first project on the Wessex route.

'We have ambitions to roll this technology out further across the network should this demonstrator project prove successful so we can deliver a greener, better railway for our passengers and the wider public.'

Network Rail is making a big push to move away from diesel-powered locomotives and is electrifying the rails to reduce its carbon footprint. This pilot project is hoped to be the first step of this process

Network Rail is making a big push to move away from diesel-powered locomotives and is electrifying the rails to reduce its carbon footprint. This pilot project is hoped to be the first step of this process 

The research team behind the initiative, dubbed Riding Sunbeams, believes it to be the first example of solar energy being used to power train lines anywhere in the world

The research team behind the initiative, dubbed Riding Sunbeams, believes it to be the first example of solar energy being used to power train lines anywhere in the world

The project also estimates that solar could power one fifth of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15 per cent of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex

By the end of 2020, Riding Sunbeams hopes to build and connect the world’s first ever full-scale community- and commuter-owned solar farm to UK railways.

The project also estimates that solar could power one fifth of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15

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