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Clean alternative transportation of the future being built right here in Santa Cruz California!

The solar-electric SolTrain is designed to address three major obstacles associated with public rail transit:

1) Continued burning of fossil fuels causing air pollution and global warming

2) High capital and operating costs

3) Low passenger appeal

The objective of the SolTrain Project is to build and test a self-propelled, solar electric, ultra-light rail vehicle designed to run on standard-gauge tracks and to carry 20 + passengers. The vehicle will demonstrate an electric drive train with regenerative braking, reliable and cost-effective batteries, photovoltaic solar charging capability, and an on-board back-up generator. The project is divided into phases designed to control development costs and produce ready-for-market vehicles in the shortest possible time. Once financing is in place, the estimated time-to-market of the first production vehicle is 9-12 months.
WHO: The SolTrain Project has been a student run project since 1990 with UCSC and Cabrillo College student interns leading the way! Students created the idea, promoted the concept, got grant funding, built and tested the prototype and are now funding the production model!
HOW DOES IT WORK: The SolTrain cars are self-propelled, with on-board batteries and electric motors. Normal operating energy is provided by photovoltaic solar cells at recharging stations and mounted on the railcars itself. Batteries can be quick-charged while passengers board, keeping them at maximum potential value. Recharging stations will produce surplus power that can be sold to the power company, and used for buy-back credits on cloudy days or in emergencies.

SolTrain Proof-of-Concept
The SolTrain Proof-of-Concept was built in 2000/2001 by converting an ultralight electric shuttle to rail. Solar panels on the rooftop, new batteries and a new controller were installed. Funding for the SolTrain Proof-of-Concept was provided by a Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission grant sponsored by the Capitola City Council. The City of Santa Cruz has added the Soltrain to their official "wish list" for funding and the Soltrain is being studied by the City of Marina for use in their Ft Ord redevelopment plans.

Based on the results of testing the SolTrain proof-of-concept prototype during the summer and fall of 2001, the SolTrain production model will be designed soon. Manufactured Soltrains are expected to be available in late 2004, and will sell for about twelve thousand dollars per seat for a 30 passenger vehicle. This is the lowest cost per seat of any self-propelled commuter rail system. Equipment lease funding for SolTrain systems is available for cities, counties and private developers.

Our SolTrain lease purchase financing requires no down or first year payments, flexible lease payments based on seasonal revenues and ownership for one dollar after 15 years. This allows SolTrain systems to be purchased without increases in taxes or bonds that are required for many other rail systems.

SolTrain Proof-of-Concept
The SolTrain proof-of-concept prototype was successfully tested during the summer of 2001 at Roaring Camp railroad with nearly 300 people participating in the maiden voyage and the testing program. This test data is now being used to design a production prototype which will be built by Powers Design International in Newport Beach CA. PDI is one of the world’s leaders in transportation prototypes and is presently designing three of the four monorail systems being built in North America. PDI has already built the lightweight body that will be used for the SolTrain project.We are presently seeking grants and private matching funds to build the production model.

A SolTrain Limited Liability Company (LLC) document has been redrafted, edited and reviewed by Jason Book of the respected Bosso Williams Law Firm in Santa Cruz for original owners Ted Lahti, Lisa Francioni and Marguerite Richardson. It is ready for filing once we have enough community interest from other potential partners. For more information call Marguerite Richardson, Tres. Soltrain group at (831) 425-0116.