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SEPTA turns to solar powered train signals as part of sustainability efforts

The signals will help make the lines safer during severe weather events

Passengers boarding a SEPTA train in Philadelphia
Passengers boarding a SEPTA train in Philadelphia
Gregory Adams/Getty Images

SEPTA is bringing solar power to Regional Rail in an effort to boost safety measures and make the transit authority more sustainable.

On Friday SEPTA announced that they’ll be using solar technology to reinforce power for rail signals at the Warminster, Doylestown, and West Trenton Regional Rail lines following a successful pilot program on the Chestnut Hill West Line.

The solar panels will be a boon during severe weather because they’ll provide a backup source of power, meaning the signal system can run for two days if the normal power source goes down, according to a statement from SEPTA.

The $16.2 million project, funded partially by a grant from the Federal Transit Administration is just one of three sustainability measures the SEPTA board approved last week. They’re also entering into a 20-year power purchase agreement to buy energy from two solar farms in Franklin County. The plants will be up and running in 2021 and will help SEPTA reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55,750 metric tons of CO2 each year, according to the statement.

As a final sustainability-focused project, the transit authority has signed an agreement with an energy supplier to bring energy conservation measures to SEPTA’s Center City headquarters. That includes installing solar powered window shades, LED ceiling lights, lighting controls, and more.

“SEPTA has been a transit industry leader in sustainability by focusing on projects that both make financial sense and lay the foundation for a green future,” SEPTA board chairman Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said in the statement last week.


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