Monday, 1 October 2012

Solar 'trees' for Volks railway

The world’s oldest operating electric railway is set to become the world’s first solar powered electric railway.

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.

The expansion will also create jobs, including construction work roles during the development and railway staff when the project is complete. The improvements are also anticipated to boost tourism trade and improve access for visitors to businesses along the seafront.

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.

Early 1900's


  1. Humm, not sure. Rather a clash of styles. When did it lose this exciting sea crossing? I'd invest in that being reinstated.

    1. As far as I know the piling is still there but buried by shingle. All along Brighton beach, due to the construction of groynes, the beach is 15 - 20ft, higher than it was in the early 19th century.

  2. I love this idea, those trees look great, at least the artist impression does. I hope they are high enough to avoid being sitting/drinking platforms for the party boys and girls of the evening.

    Anything that saves money and energy in the long run has got to be better really. The all weather train is a great idea, especially the way our summers are not always the direst!

  3. Application BH2012/03135 for the above project was approved on 20 Dec 2012.

  4. what would be brilliant is if they ran the line along to the i360 and into the marina, bit of an investment but it would get a hell of a lot more people using it


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