Bendigo-Echuca Line Is V/Line’s First Solar Powered Level Crossing, and more solar-powered projects may go ahead due to its success.
The installation by V/Line of its first ever solar powered level crossing in northern Victoria will cost much less to operate “than mains electricity,” according to Australian Minister for Public Transport, Terry Mulder, saving “around $25,000” in operational expenses. V/Line is the country’s largest regional public transportation system.
Advancing Rail and Road Safety with Solar Powered Level Crossing
Under a $47 million funding program of the Victorian Coalition Government, upgrading on Wakeman Road’s passive level crossing is being readied with flashing lights and boom barriers to be upgraded to a solar powered level crossing. This upgrade is part of several fix country crossing programs which can eventually save money for taxpayers as well as become environmentally beneficial.
If the solar powered level crossing upgrade proves to be a success, V/Line expects to have more installations in other remote areas. Greg Bickley, Bendigo East’s Liberal candidate, admitted that the solar powered level crossing upgrade can advance rail and road safety, citing the daily trains which carry passengers – which include not only local residents but visitors as well — on the railway line.
V/Line CEO Theo Taifalos said that their technicians analysed weather data and the landscape for over a year before installation of the solar powered level crossing began to ensure that the energy generated would be sufficient. From its battery to its back-up systems, Taifalos has assured the public of the installation’s reliability. The solar powered level crossing, located at Huntly’s Bendigo-Echuca line, will be “as safe and reliable” as those crossings powered by mains electricity, according to Mulder.
Remote monitoring, alarms, and back-up generator are all readily available to assure commuters of early intervention by trained maintenance technicians in case of emergencies. Because of technological advances, solar power has been considered a reliable energy source even for vital infrastructure such as lighthouses, explained Mulder. Alpha Power System’s 18 solar panels came with a solar-powered generator, signal hut, and battery bank that cost only under $100,000.
V/Line and VicTrack in Tandem
The solar powered level crossing upgrade, which includes automatic pedestrian gates and flashing lights, among other improvements, is jointly managed by V/Line and VicTrack. V/Line has the responsibility for providing not only safe passenger services but also public access to freight and other services on the railway network, and maintaining rail infrastructure including the rail reserve, rail track, and pedestrian and level crossings.
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VicTrack, on the other hand, owns all train and tram infrastructure and land in behalf of Victoria. VicTrack is also in charge of the management of the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model and the delivery of upgrades on protection for pedestrian and level crossings.
Giving Victorian Solar a Boost
The solar powered level crossing installation is actually an experiment which could have sequels should it prove to be less expensive to operate than the previous conventional systems. Taifalos said that solar powered level crossing installations are cheaper to extend and provide energy to places where access to power supply lines is difficult.
The fix country crossing programs, still according to Mulder, have given the Victorian economy a boost. The upgrade, for instance, will continue to rely on a workforce that is skilled at each level crossing. This, in fact, requires numerous hands that are trained and experienced in the delivery of safety improvements that are part and parcel of any system installation.