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Jul 20, 2012

Big London train station solar array project advances

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London|First Capital Connect|Network Rail|Panasonic|Solar Century|United Kingdom|Blackfriars Rail Bridge|Underground Station|Victorian Bridge|Electricity|Electronics Manufacturer|Energy Needs|Rail Network|Railway Operator|Solar Energy|Sustainable Technology|Transport|River Thames|Bakia Mbianyor|Frans Van Den Heuvel|Paul Byrne|Versatile Technology
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The installation of 4 400 solar panels on the roof of the Blackfriars train station, in central London, reached the halfway mark in July, said British railway operator Network Rail.

Network Rail is rebuilding the station on top of Blackfriars Rail Bridge to provide more space for passengers and longer, more frequent trains. The new station roof above the Victorian bridge will generate up to 50% of the station’s energy needs.

The solar panels, manufac- tured by electronics manufacturer Panasonic and designed and installed by solar energy company Solar Century, will cover an area of 6 000 m2, making Blackfriars the largest solar bridge in the world. The panels are expected to generate 900 000 kWh of electricity every year, saving more than 500 t a year of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“The 125-year-old rail bridge’s iconic location, spanning the River Thames, makes it a showcase for the potential of solar power and an important benchmark for Network Rail, as we are looking to make the best use of sustainable technology on the rail network,” said Network Rail senior programme manager for Blackfriars Paul Byrne.

“Blackfriars will become fully operational for passengers this month, with two new entrances, four new platforms and a new London Underground station. We will complete work on the bridge, including the installation of solar panels, later in the year.

“We have been working on one of the most complex build programmes in the country at height, as well as over water and live train lines. Architecturally challenging, the project demonstrates just what is possible with this versatile technology in dense urban areas,” said Solar Century CEO Frans van den Heuvel.

“In terms of CO2 emissions, rail travel is already the most sustainable form of mass transport with 0.1 kg of CO2 per passenger mile. The solar panels at Blackfriars will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint even more at one of our most important stations in central London,” said UK train operator First Capital Connect sustainability manager Bakia Mbianyor.

Over the past four years, Blackfriars station has been rebuilt on top of a Victorian rail bridge. The bridge was stripped to its foundations and reconstructed wider and stronger to house platforms, a 250-m-long roof and the world’s largest bridge-based solar array.

The work forms part of a wider upgrade of the Thames-link route, running from Bedford to Brighton through central London. First Capital Connect customers on this route will benefit from longer trains and more frequent services, with a metro-style train every 2.5 minutes through central London during peak times.

Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu
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