Network Rail could cut operating costs by £150m between 2019 and 2024 by inviting investors to fund trackside solar arrays. That is the conclusion of a new report from infrastructure consultancy WSP, which argues installing solar panels on half of the trackside land in the UK could save Network Rail £30m a year, cutting costs by £150m over the next five year control period. It also investigates new approaches for creating additional value out of the UK rail network, argues that trackside solar panels could provide up to 2.44GW of capacity, increasing the UK’s current installed solar capacity by almost 50 per cent. The approach, which has already been pioneered in a number of European countries, is thought to be particularly attractive as trackside solar arrays would not eat into agricultural land, are unlikely to have a significant visual impact, and tend to have access to grid connections. The report acknowledges that Network Rail would not be able to fund such a large energy infrastructure programme, given cost estimates reach £2.9bn. But WSP’s renewable energy expert Barny Evans argued the project could prove highly attractive to clean energy investors.