Friday 5.00pm: SCORES of onlookers witnessed a world first unfold at Byron Bay as its new solar train was craned in and placed on to the new railway line.
Following six years of planning, restoration of a 1949 heritage train and 3km of railway line, the construction of two platforms and a train shed and the upcycling to produce the world's first solar train, the two-carriage rail motor has arrived at its new home, just in time for Christmas.
The Byron Bay Railroad Company train will take locals and visitors between Byron township and the North Beach precinct incorporating the Byron Arts Estate, the Sunrise residential community and Elements of Byron resort.
The 3km journey along the coastal track will cost $3 for adults with some concessions provided for children.
The train, which has been fully refurbished in its heritage colours, seats 100 passengers with additional room for standing passengers and luggage including prams and bicycles.
In a statement, the rail company said they were glad to see the train arrive, and couldn't wait to start operating - hopefully before Christmas.
They said while there are some trains throughout the world with technology that allows them to run parts of the train like lights and air conditioning on solar power, this is the first real train to run fully on power from the sun.
"This is an exciting world first, powering a train with solar power, day, night and in every type of weather," John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council said.
"It shows Australia's fantastic sunshine can be harnessed in smart ways not just to power our homes and businesses, but to address another pressing problem - cutting emissions in the transportation sector."
Byron Bay Railroad Company will now begin training the nineteen new local staff, undertaking test runs and commissioning the new solar equipment.
"Solar doesn't stand still" saDan Cass said, Strategist at The Australia Institute. "It has been growing exponentially for a decade and more solar PV generation capacity is being installed than any other technology internationally. This train demonstrates that Australian solar scientists and their innovations are changing the world".
The Byron Bay Railroad Company solar train was expected to begin trips before Christmas from Elements of Byron at the industrial estate into the Byron township.
Friday 10.44am: SCORES of on-lookers witnessed a world first unfold in Byron Bay as its new solar train was craned in and placed onto the new railway line.
The Byron Bay Railroad Company solar train is expected to begin trips before Christmas from Elements of Byron at the industrial estate into the Byron township.
Ballina Shire councillor was among those who witnessed the momentous occasion earlier on Friday morning.
He was confident the new train was an exciting development for transportation on the North Coast.
"Bringing the rail line back to life will be great for Byron and the region," Cr Williams said.
He said it was a "happy accident" he was in town for the momentous occasion with the crane blocking traffic for Cr Williams, who was dropping his partner to work at the time.
"I saw a friend there and stopped to say g'day to him and then I was caught (out by the train)," he said.
Bringing the solar train to fruition has been six years in the making.
The pre-service operation is expected to run between 8am and 10pm with the majority of trips running during normal business hours.