The first of a planned fleet of eight hydrogen fuel cell buses in London will start operating on 18 December. The buses will form the only hydrogen bus fleet in the UK and the largest currently in Europe.
The vehicles were specifically designed for Transport for London (TfL) using technology developed by ISE, Wrightbus and Ballard. All eight buses are expected to be phased into operation next year creating the UK’s first zero-emission bus route. The RV1 route passes through some of London’s most polluted areas, so its conversion to hydrogen power will help to improve London’s air quality.
The buses are joining a fleet which also includes 100 hybrid buses. This is set to expand to 300 and, from 2012, will be joined by the Mayor’s New Bus for London, which will be 40% less polluting than a traditional diesel bus.
The buses will run from a specially designed maintenance facility housed in First’s Lea Interchange bus depot at Stratford in east London. This will include the UK’s largest permanent hydrogen refuelling station to be maintained by Air Products.
London initially pioneered hydrogen buses in the UK when it took part in the Cleaner Urban Transport for Europe (CUTE) trial from December 2003 to January 2007. TfL operated three trial hydrogen buses on the route RV1, using findings from these trials and that of European partners to seek out these suppliers who have developed these next generation hydrogen fuel cell buses to operate in central London.
The buses are jointly funded by TfL, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the European Union via the Clean Hydrogen in Cities (CHIC) project.
The London Hydrogen Partnership (LHP) launched an action plan earlier this year setting out ambitions to create a Hydrogen network by 2012. The LHP is working with London boroughs and private landowners on plans to deliver six refuelling sites to run hydrogen-powered vehicles in the city over the next two years. It also aims to encourage a minimum of 150 hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road in London by 2012 including 15 hydrogen-powered taxis.
TfL is a member of the Hydrogen Bus Alliance, an international partnership whose members are committed to supporting the continued and rapid development and commercialization of hydrogen technology in the transport sector.
The Mayor has a target for London to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2025; 22% of carbon emissions there is generated by road transport.