Brighton and Hove City Council which operates the line plans five large solar “trees” on Madeira Drive,
a new train shed with solar panels on the roof and a public viewing gallery inside and an all-weather train providing shelter for passengers.
The aim is to keep the railway open for business all year round using state-of-the-art sustainable power and ensure its long term future. Extending the opening hours and enabling the railway to operate all year round is expected to generate additional income through fares.
The cost of the proposed work is expected to be about £1.5million, most of which will be met by grant funding. The council is looking to invest £245,000 in the developments.
The Volks railway currently uses a maximum of 29,000 kw/h of electricity per year to run. Solar trees and panels on the new train shed will create between 32,000 kw/h and 38,000 kw/h per year depending on sunshine levels. This will provide enough electricity for existing service and the new train to run and provide a saving to the council in electricity bills of £6000 per year.
A planning application has been submitted today with a decision due in November. If the plans are approved, the work will be carried out during the winter season of 2013. The revamped railway is set to open at the traditional start of the season in Easter 2014.