Monday, 8 February 2016

10 years of diesel-electric Hybrid operation for London Buses

Wright Electrocity

This article will be a bit of a surprise for most you, in-so-far as today is the 10th anniversary of the first hybrid bus operation in London.

The first diesel-electric hybrid buses to enter London service were the Wright Electrocity buses (based on VDL SB120 chassis) which began operation on route 360 on 8th February 2006. They were then temporarily withdrawn due to engine overheating problems.

So then, let’s take a look at the old press releases from TFL about the hybrid buses.

On the 7th February 2006, TFL issued the following press release about their first hybrid bus.

Mayor launches London's first hybrid buses to make cleaner, greener bus fleet

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, today announced the addition by Transport for London (TfL) of six new, environmentally friendly hybrid vehicles - the first ever such vehicles in London - to the London Buses fleet.

The new hybrid buses, built by the Wright Group, are cleaner, quieter and use less fuel than a standard diesel bus, leading to a substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
The hybrids will operate on route 360, run by London Central, from tomorrow, Wednesday, 8 February 2006.

A leafy motif on the buses will help passengers recognise their environmentally-friendly status.

The vehicles will be introduced as part of an ongoing programme by TfL to test innovative technology and further reduce emissions from its bus fleet, which is already the cleanest in the UK*.

This is in line with the Mayor's Air Quality, Energy and Noise strategies.

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, said: "These cleaner, greener hybrid buses are at the forefront of environmentally-friendly technology.

"They will help London cut pollutant emissions and so contribute to tackling climate change and improve the city's air, as well as offering passengers a smoother, quieter journey.

Quality of life

"Air pollution affects the quality of life of a large number of Londoners causing around 1,000 premature deaths and a similar number of hospital admissions every year. I am determined to improve air quality through reducing transport emissions and if this hybrid bus trial is successful, we will expand their use across London."

Mike Weston, Operations Director for London Buses, said: "London Buses is committed to minimising our impact on the environment, and initial tests show these vehicles produce significantly fewer emissions than a standard bus.

"The bus network in London leads the way in the UK and beyond in innovation - this is another example of technology we hope might bring benefits to the urban environment in the near to medium-term future."

The six hybrid vehicles will be monitored and assessed over the coming months for performance, reliability and durability.

If they prove successful, London Buses will encourage their wider introduction into the fleet.

Shortly after this, Wrightbus unveiled their own double deck bus in October 2006 and it first entered service on route 141 during March 2007.

Here is the press release from TFL on the world’s first Hybrid double deck bus:

Wright Gemini 2 HEV
The world's first hybrid diesel electric double-decker bus goes into service on route 141 in London today, Transport for London (TfL) has announced.

This inaugural service comes after the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, recently announced plans for an increased hybrid bus fleet for the capital.

Hybrid buses, which use a combination of diesel and electric power, are central to the Mayor and TfL's plans for a cleaner, greener fleet, and will contribute to cutting the capital's carbon dioxide emissions.

These hybrid buses are an important step towards the Mayor's long-term goal of a low carbon transport system.

A leafy motif on the buses will help passengers recognise their environmentally-friendly status.

Ken Livingstone said: 'This is a world-first for London marking our commitment to a cleaner, greener public transport network.

'Hybrid vehicles emit less harmful emissions helping to improve air quality and tackle climate change.

'I repeat my call for bus manufacturers and operators to rise to the challenge of making hybrid buses more financially feasible so we can speed up their introduction across London.'

The hybrid bus will operate on Route 141, run by Arriva, from Palmers Green, Wood Green, Turnpike Lane Station, Haringey, Manor House, Newington Green, Mildmay Park, Hoxton, Old Street Station, Moorgate, Bank Monument and to London Bridge Station.

Immense potential

Mark Yexley, Managing Director, Arriva London, said: 'Buses play a vital role in encouraging people to use public transport more often.

'By introducing more environmentally-friendly means of public transport, we're helping in the battle to reduce carbon emissions across the UK.

'This hybrid engine initiative is excellent and its potential is immense.

'We're delighted to be part of it.'

The adoption of hybrid buses is a key part of a range of measures being developed by the Mayor and TfL to meet London's contribution to tackling climate change.

The measures include:

    * Continuing modal shift from private car usage to public transport, cycling and walking
    * Greater energy efficiency across all TfL businesses and modes of transport
    * The adoption of more energy from renewable sources and innovative technology to recycle energy
    * Support for the continued research and development of low carbon fuels
    * Strategies and support for organisations and individuals to travel in more environmentally-friendly ways through Travel Demand Management schemes, including in the London Borough of Sutton the largest of its kind in the UK

Unfortunately the Wrightbus Hybrid HEV was withdrawn from London service in 2010.

In late 2008, TFL issued a press release about the introduction of more hybrid buses for London.

Alexander Dennis Enviro400H
By 2012 we expect every new bus entering the fleet should be using hybrid technology

Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled a range of new, single and double deck, eco-friendly hybrid buses for London today (2 December), the first stage in a major expansion of the Capital's hybrid bus fleet.

By the end of January next year, the number of hybrid buses in the Capital will more than quadruple to 56 buses and confirm the Capital's position as the home of the largest fleet of hybrid buses in the UK.

A further 300 hybrid buses will be in operation by 2011.

Twenty-five new hybrids will go into service this month on routes 16, 141, 276, 328 and E8; a further 18 hybrid buses will join the fleet early in 2009.

Hybrid technology
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'A wonderful alliance of fuel efficiency and fume deficiency make hybrid engines the way to go for buses in our city.

'Londoners that travel on buses with the green leaf livery can rest comfortably in their seats and enjoy clear environmental consciences, safe in the knowledge that their journey will guzzle far less fuel and expire a whopping forty per cent less carbon dioxide than a regular bus.

'I'd urge all Londoners to look out for their leafy livery on the city's streets and jump on board.'

Both TfL and the Mayor are committed to the introduction of hybrid technology and by 2012, TfL expects all new buses joining the fleet will be hybrid.

Cleaner energy
At a rate of 500 buses a year, it is expected to be the largest roll out of hybrid buses in Europe.

The bus industry has responded to that commitment and several major manufacturers have developed hybrid buses specifically for the London fleet.

The Mayor has also specified that the 'New Bus for London' should run on a hybrid engine.

Hybrid buses are cleaner and greener than their diesel counterparts.

Reduced emmisions
Their combination of a conventional engine and an electric motor uses less fuel and is better for air quality as they emit fewer pollutants and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 40 per cent.

Their roll out will contribute to the Mayor's target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions across London by 2025.

Londoners will notice that hybrid buses are also significantly quieter than diesel buses, making bus travel more pleasant for passengers and reducing noise for local residents along bus routes.

Alexander Dennis, Volvo and Optare have now produced their first hybrid buses for London, while Wrightbus has produced a new double deck hybrid, using different technology to that used in the 13 hybrids it already has operating in the London fleet.

Quieter engine
Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor's Director of Transport Policy, said: 'With bus ridership rocketing it is vital our buses are as clean and green as possible.

'The trial of new hybrid buses is a further step towards that aim and will mean we can be sure that we get the best buses possible for Londoners.

'By 2012 we expect every new bus entering the fleet should be using hybrid technology and their roll out will contribute to the Mayor's target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions across London by 2025.'

David Brown, Managing Director for Surface Transport at TfL, said: 'London has led the way in the introduction of hybrid technology in its bus fleet, and I'm pleased to see so many manufacturers responding with new hybrid bus designs.

Cleanest in the UK
'As we increase the number of hybrid buses in London, more people across the Capital will be able to see first hand the future of the bus fleet - cleaner, quieter and more pleasant for passengers and Londoners on the whole, but also more efficient and environmentally friendly.'

These vehicles are being introduced as part of an ongoing programme by TfL to test innovative technology and reduce emissions from its bus fleet, which is already the cleanest in the UK.

All of London's hybrid buses can be recognised by the green leaf motif over their traditional red livery.

The new hybrid buses joining the fleet in December will be used for driver training this week, and will start going into service from next week onwards on the following routes:
·         Route E8, operated by Metroline between Ealing Broadway Station and Brentford (Commerce Road) - five Optare single decks
·         Route 16, operated by Metroline between Victoria Station and Cricklewood Garage - five new Alexander Dennis Ltd double decks
·         Route 141, operated by Arriva between Palmers Green (North Circular Road) and London Bridge Station - five new Wrightbus double decks
·         Route 276, operated by East London Buses between Newham Hospital and Stoke Newington Common - five Optare single decks
·         Route 328, operated by First between Golder's Green Station and Chelsea (World's End) - five new Wrightbus double decks

Eighteen further hybrid buses will join the fleet early in 2009 on the following routes:
·         Route 24, operated by London General between Pimlico (Grosvenor Road) and Hampstead Heath (South End Green) - five new Alexander Dennis Ltd double decks
·         Route 42, operated by East Thames Buses between Liverpool Street Station (Worship Street) and Denmark Hill (Sunray Avenue) - five new Alexander Dennis Ltd single decks
·         Route 141, operated by Arriva between Palmers Green (North Circular Road) and London Bridge Station - a further six new Volvo double decks
·         Route 482, operated by London United between Southall Town Hall and Heathrow Terminal Five - two Alexander Dennis Ltd double decks

Thirteen hybrid buses, built by Wrightbus, are already in service in London:
·         Seven single decks operate on route 360, operated by London Central between Kensington (Queen's Gate) and Elephant & Castle
·         Five single decks operate on route 129, operated by Travel London between Greenwich (Cutty Sark) and North Greenwich Station
·         One double deck hybrid on route 141, operated by Arriva between Palmers Green and London Bridge Station. This bus will be returned to Wrightbus early in the New Year, when all five of the later model are operating on the route

A total of 56 double and single deck hybrid buses will be in operation in London by the end of January 2009. TfL is committed to a longer term programme that will see a further 300 new hybrid buses joining the fleet by the end of March 2011; after which it is expected that all new buses entering service in London will be hybrid

This also saw the introduction of the first batch of the Alexander Dennis Enviro400H as well as the single deck buses manufactured by Optare. The Volvo hybrid double decks have the Wright ‘Gemini 2’ bodywork.

Here is a list of the diesel-electric hybrid bus types.

·         Wright Electrocity
·         Wright Pulsar Gemini HEV*
·         Optare Versa Hybrid
·         Wright Gemini 2 HW*
·         Wright Gemini Volvo B5LH
·         Wright Gemini 2 Volvo B5LH
·         Optare Tempo Hybrid*
·         Alexander Dennis Enviro400H
·         Alexander Dennis Enviro200H
·         Wright New Routemaster
·         Wright Gemini 3 Volvo B5LH
·         Alexander Dennis Enviro400H MMC (BAE)
·         Alexander Dennis Enviro400H MMC Volvo B5LH
·         Alexander Dennis Enviro400H Virtual Electric

*Withdrawn from service

From the Hybrid Buses page of the City Transport Info website, it says "As an aside, these are not London's first 'ever' hybrid buses. In 1986/7 there were trials of an experimental hybrid bus which captured braking energy that was then recycled to accelerate the bus to speeds of 20mph." So this means that the Wright Electrocity was not the first Hybrid bus to enter service in London.
If anyone has any information about the experimental hybrid bus from 1986/7 that I may have missed, then please let me know in the comments section below.

TFL have said there are 1,500 diesel-electric hybrid buses operating on London routes and they are anticipating to increase it to 1,700. TFL have ordered another 200 New Routemasters (to increase the fleet to 1,000) which contributes to the increase in hybrid buses.

Here is a list of routes which will soon have new hybrid buses in London.

Bus Type
Expected Date
CT Plus
E400H City
25th June 2016
London Central
30th April 2016
London Central
30th April 2016
23rd July 2016
London United
3rd September 2016
London United
2nd July 2016
3rd September 2016
3rd September 2016
3rd September 2016

The following is a news update from LOTS:

Wright New Routemaster
1) Introduction Into service on route 47 of Stagecoach’s  batch of Volvo B5LH/E400MMCs  (13082-102) at Catford is now almost complete.  Tridents in the 18481-499 batch have started to move out, mostly to Bromley to replace older Tridents.  Epsom Buses now has in stock its ten StreetLites (WS 01-10) for route 463, all former London General 64-reg vehicles.  Some of Arriva’s new 9.3m E20Ds ENR1-7 have started to appear in service on route B13, while just a couple of Dartford’s E400s remain to appear.

2) Metroline’s large stock of Trident/ Presidents is now down to just five, two TPLs and three TPs, all at Holloway. At Uxbridge, just one Dart/ Caetano (DC1541) remains in use.  All of London General’s ELSs have now gone from route 42, having been replaced by SOEs from Merton.  The last eight of Go-Ahead’s Euro-II PVLs are still going strong although they must be replaced very soon now. They are PVL151-SI, 152=NX, 154-BX, 159-NX, 169-Q, 170-AL, 215-NX, 232-Q. 

3) On 3rd February at the TfL Board meeting, financial approval was given for another 195 NRMs to be ordered so as to take the total up to the initial ‘promised’ figure of 1,000.  This includes the 30 that had been proposed a few weeks ago to Wrights to ‘tide them over’ the summer.  The price per bus of this new batch has reduced by 40,000 pounds.

Since diesel-electric hybrid buses are increasing, should TFL start increasing the number of zero emission buses such as the hydrogen and electric buses for their fleet to help combat climate change and pollution?

So TFL just approved another 195 diesel electric buses with 3 doors and 2 staircases, which is known as the New Routemaster, and route 68 has begun the New Routemaster operation. We are still waiting for route 3 to have New Routemasters entering service.

That's all I have to say for now and I hope you enjoyed this article which I wrote to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the hybrid bus service in London. I'm not an expert on it but I do like to put the information out there as many people are unaware of it. We should all be thankful that the London Bus routes are still regulated giving London more new buses than the rest of Britain which is deregulated.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus for all the latest transport news which is  @CLondoner92

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Image attributions
By AlexNevinTylee - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Arriva436 - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
By Arriva436 - Own work, CC BY 3.0,
By Au Morandarte - Flickr: DSC00666, CC BY-SA 2.0,

1 comment:

  1. This year 2016 will be 54 years since the closure of Londons' second pure electric bus system. At its height we had 1800 trolleybuses. But just as the clean air legislation was being enacted they were sacrificed because there was a factory ready to build a new design of diesel bus but at that time London did not need more enough new buses to justify the factory.

    London's first electric buses were the Electrobus of circa 1907.


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