30th September 2014
V/Line’s first solar powered level crossing is being installed at Huntly on the Bendigo to Echuca rail line, Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder announced today.
“The passive level crossing at Wakeman Road is ready to be upgraded with boom barriers and flashing lights in coming months, with the sun’s rays to provide the energy source,” Mr Mulder said.
The first of its kind for V/Line, the crossing upgrade is being funded under the Victorian Coalition Government’s $47 million Fix Country Crossings Program.
“Using solar power at remote locations is an exciting innovation that is not only environmentally friendly but could save taxpayers’ money,” Mr Mulder said.
“The installation of the solar technology at Huntly is expected to save around $25,000 and will cost less to run than mains electricity.
“It could be the perfect solution for providing energy to locations where power supplies are far away and extremely costly to extend.”
Mr Mulder said the solar powered level crossing would be as safe and reliable as mains powered crossings.
“Solar panels collect energy from the sun which is stored in batteries to provide power on cloudy days and at night,” Mr Mulder said.
“There is also a back-up generator as well as remote monitoring and alarms to ensure early intervention by maintenance technicians.
“Solar power technology is now so advanced that it has been found to be a successful energy source for such vital infrastructure as lighthouses,” Mr Mulder said.
The installation will be evaluated and if successful, solar power will be used for other remote locations.
Liberal candidate for Bendigo East Greg Bickley said the crossing upgrade would provide a major boost to road and rail safety.
“There are daily passenger trains on this line as well as freight trains, and this upgrade is an innovative way to improve the safety of local residents and visitors to the region,” Mr Bickley said.
“This is a very practical solution to a costly problem that is great for the environment, with the savings to enable other investments in regional rail.”
V/Line CEO Theo Taifalos said V/Line had a proud tradition of using innovative technology in all aspects of its operations.
“Prior to installation, technicians analysed the landscape and weather data over the course of a year to ensure there would be adequate energy generation,” Mr Taifalos said.
“With the battery and generator back up, this installation will be reliable even when skies are grey.”