On December 16, 2017, a fully solar-powered train took a short but groundbreaking journey in New South Wales, Australia. The company behind the train, the Byron Bay Railroad Company, brought the vintage passenger vehicle back to life to prove that solar power can actually work for transportation.

The train runs solely on clean energy — solar panels on its roof and at pit stops provide all of the power needed for its 3 kilometer (1.9 miles) route.

The train originally had two diesel engines, of which one has been replaced by batteries and an electric motor. The other will serve as a backup in case of emergency, although the train will keep going under a cloudy sky, too, thanks to a 77kWh battery.

The fully solar-powered train holds 100 seated passengers, with room for others to stand, and completes one round-trip journey every hour.

Powering cars with solar energy is a challenge that engineers have yet to nail. Cars require a lot of energy, zig-zag between sunlight and shadow, and start and stop all the time. Small vehicles are heavy, and the surface suitable for installing solar panels is too small to produce sufficient power.

Trains, on the other hand, travel on a fixed route and can be quickly recharged at each stop using electricity generated by static solar panels. For that reason, they have been the target of several renewable energy projects. 

According to futurism.com