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Solar tech proves future is brighter in European first for rail

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Solar tech proves future is brighter in European first for rail
Denmark Hill station.

The first-ever “carbon positive” upgrade on the rail network has been achieved, with Denmark Hill station using photovoltaic film to capture sunlight and convert it to energy, to the point it produces more than it consumes.

Any unneeded energy is sent back to the grid.

It’s the first upgrade of its kind in Europe. Improvements, as part of a £7.5 million project, include better waiting facilities, sheltered platforms, better lighting, a brand new 85-space cycle hub and public art.

Chris Heaton-Harris and Sandi Toksvig at the opening of the improvements to Denmark Hill station.

Another improvement is the addition of a second entrance on Windsor Walk adjacent to the two nearby major hospitals, Kings College and the Maudsley. This will cut about 200 metres off the everyday journeys of up to 15,000 staff and patients once the walking route through the Maudsley hospital reopens in 2023.

Chris Heaton-Harris MP.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris opened the station, accompanied by local resident, writer, broadcaster and campaigner Sandi Toksvig, representatives from Network Rail, GTR, the Camberwell Society, Kings College and Maudsley NHS hospitals and actress Danielle Arthur-Kennedy. She read a poem for those and others attending called ‘The Test’, by local feminist activist Una Marson.

The Minister said: “This upgrade transforms a Victorian station into a modern experience for passengers – cutting crowding, improving access, and introducing new space for cyclists and artwork.

“Making this new extension to Denmark Hill the first ‘carbon positive’ upgrade by utilising innovative solar technology also demonstrates our ambition to ensure our rail network is greener for passengers and better for our environment.”

The improvements to the station in Camberwell, South London, will also improve the look and feel of the station with Network Rail installing additional canopies along with new customer information screens and more seating.  Together with upgraded PA systems the hope is these will encourage passengers to use the full length of the platforms and ease overcrowding.

John Halsall, Network Rail.

Network Rail’s Southern region managing director, John Halsall, commented:  “The work we’ve done at Denmark Hill was ground-breaking in terms of upgrades to existing Victorian infrastructure in many ways, fusing the modern with the old, and above all making it accessible and user-friendly for passengers. 

“The new upgrade is highly sustainable, using solar energy solutions that actually produce more power than the station upgrade needs to run, so we can put power back to the grid.

“We’ve managed to complete this project on time and on budget despite the impact of COVID, and that’s testament to our relationship with GTR, the Camberwell Society, and the Salvation Army for lending us part of their site for the works.”

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