Start a love train: Belgium’s solar rail tunnel
When one thinks of Belgium three things immediately spring to mind: alcoholic monks, acne and ethnic strife.
Wait, that’s not quite right. What I mean to say is that when one thinks of Belgium three things immediately spring to mind: fine Trappist beers, gourmet chocolates and a thriving multiculturalism. It’s funny how that came out on my first try. I must have momentarily become some kind of stereotyping, Daily Mail-reading, grumpy old cynic.
Anyway, one thing that this boring little non-country, excuse me, this fascinating microcosm of Western Europe can add to its wall of fame is that it is now home to the world’s first solar powered train tunnel. The tunnel is 3.6 km or 2.2 miles long and helped power a commuter-filled “green train of love” for the first time on Monday, according to AFP.
From the Guardian:
The high-speed line running from Paris to Amsterdam passes Antwerp and a nearby ancient forest. To avoid the need to fell protected trees, a long tunnel was built over the line which has now been topped with 16,000 solar panels. The electricity produced is equivalent to that needed to power all the trains in Belgium for one day per year, and will also help power Antwerp station.
The solar panel-covered train tunnel goes through Antwerp in northern Belgium and is partly subsidized by the state in order to meet the country’s climate goals. (See, America? Even little Belgium is pulling its weight.)
Another solar-powered train-related project is London’s new Blackfriars Station, which is set to open in a year’s time and is designed to draw as much as 50% of its power from solar panels.
Check out this video of the sun-fueled tunnel in Antwerp, replete with a rocking musical soundtrack which sounds like a cross between a John Tesh concert and the theme from Dallas: