The heavy rail network in New South Wales (NSW) has moved to 100% net zero emissions four years before the target date through a renewable energy deal.

This development means the network becomes the first in Australia to make such a transition.

The NSW government signed a four-year agreement with Snowy Hydro-owned Red Energy for the supply of electricity to power the network for the project, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

The agreement will see Red Energy buying renewable energy certificates on behalf of Sydney Trains.

Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink are currently said to account for nearly 1.3% of the state’s electricity consumption.

NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Rob Stokes said: “Our rail operators have smashed the net zero target of 2025 by becoming the first heavy rail network in Australia to transition to completely green energy. Transport is one of the largest consumers of energy, and we are investing in renewables for a greener future for our customers and our state.

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“With over 3,200 timetabled train services every weekday, our rail network is not only the vital lifeblood of NSW, but is now leading Australia’s transition to a decarbonised public transport network.”

Sydney Trains CEO Matt Longland said: “Through this agreement, Sydney Trains has accelerated our original goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2025 to an immediate, greener reality, placing the railway at the forefront of NSW Government action on emissions reductions.

“Our electricity supply contract is 100% renewable from now to the end of financial year 23/24, and we are preparing to go to market to test solutions to maintain a commitment to renewable energy into the future.”

Sydney Trains aims to minimise its energy consumption by at least 10% by 2025.

This will be achieved through lighting upgrades, optimisation of train operations, as well as solar energy generation at 27 sites across the network.

Last month, Transport for New South Wales awarded the RailConnect NSW joint venture a contract extension for 56 additional double deck passenger cars for the Mariyung fleet.

The RailConnect NSW consortium is a joint venture comprising Hyundai Rotem Company, Mitsubishi Electric Australia, and CIMIC Group company UGL.

Once delivered, the New Intercity Fleet will increase to 610 carriages.