Humans might soon be transported on trains running on their own waste and that of animals.
The engineers behind the BioUltra, Ultra Light Rail Partners, aim to replace city trains and trams with biomethane-fueled alternatives to help the environment, The Independent reports.
ULR Partners has received a £60,000 grant from the UK government's Sustainable Innovation Fund to develop its biomethane-fueled train. The firm plans to use this money to develop a sustainable railcar with the capacity for carrying up to 120 passengers.
Biomethane is a type of biofuel derived from several waste products, including sewage sludge, farming crop residue, animal manure, and food waste. All of these are broken down by bacteria to produce a gas that is, in turn, used as a cleaner alternative fuel.
Though biomethane does release carbon into the atmosphere, proponents argue that it would be released anyway by natural processes — using it as a fuel simply gives the components a new life that prevents the need for the burning of fossil fuels.
The new trains are set to run on branch lines re-opened under government plans to reverse railway cuts.
ULR Partners' COVID-safe travel
In a statement, Beverley Nielsen, the chair of Ultra Light Rail Partners, said "this really is a vote of confidence in our business which is fully focussed on providing lightweight affordable railcar travel as a comfortable, modern, reliable and safe alternative to traveling by car."
"We want to be able to offer this option to larger towns and smaller cities around the UK so they can realistically take polluting vehicles out of their city and town centers improving quality of life for all.
"Recent monitoring by Sustainability West Midlands identified that reducing the levels of just one pollutant, PM2.5, by 50 percent would prevent as many as 952 deaths in the West Midlands alone each year."
What's more, several features will make the train safe in our post-COVID-19 world: ultraviolet lights and heavily filtered air will make travel as safe as possible, a statement from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce explains.