The Anonymous Widower

West Midlands To Run ‘Largest Hydrogen Bus Fleet’ Due To New Funding

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

These are a few points from the article.

  • The region is set to get 124 new hydrogen vehicles.
  • The West Midlands is set to run the UK’s largest hydrogen bus fleet after securing new funding.
  • The region will get 124 new buses after it won £30m from the Department for Transport to fund a switchover.
  • Twenty four of the new vehicles will be articulated tram-style buses set to run on a new bus priority route between Walsall, Birmingham and Solihull.

Does the last statement mean, that they will buying a hundred double-decker hydrogen buses?

A few thoughts.

Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses

These are a few pictures from Riding Birmingham’s New Hydrogen-Powered Buses.

They were excellent buses from Wrightbus.

The Tram Style Buses

The Belgian firm; Van Hool have a product called Exquicity. This video shows them working in Pau in France.

These tram buses run on rubber types and are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

Could these be what the article refers to as tram-style buses?

It should be noted, that the West Midlands and Pau have bought their hydrogen filling stations from ITM Power in Sheffield.

So has there has been a spot of the Entente Cordiale between Pau and the West Midlands?

Will The West Midlands Buy The Other Hundred Buses From Wrightbus?

There doesn’t seem to be any problems on the web about the initial fleet, so I suspect they will.

It should also be noted that Wrightbus make the following types of zero-emission buses.

These would surely enable the West Midlands to mic-and-match according to their needs.

 

March 29, 2022 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. Van Hool originally sold 8, Exqui.City 18 FC (18.62 metre long) to Pau in consortium with the electric utility company Engie and ITM Power. They have a passenger capacity of 125 and a range between refuelling of around 200 miles. The bus is equipped with a FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt, Ballard fuel cell pack. The total value of that contract was €13.5 (£11.3) million, of which €7 (£5.6) million had already been acquired through French regional and European JIVE grants. It would seem these are the articulated vehicles you mention in this post.
    Birmingham have already purchased 20 Wrightbus double deckers which are being operated in Birmingham by the National Express. They are setting up a facility for the provision of hydrogen refuelling by ITM Power at the Tyseley Energy Park low and zero carbon refuelling station. So far the station is a £10 million investment, and is a combination of public and private funding, including £1.5 million from Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. This suggests further investment will be required. I might assume a proportion of the West Midlands £30 million grant announced will be committed to the potential expansion of the resources at Tyseley Energy Park. The estimated total investment for the Tyseley Energy Park, which also includes resources for the provision of electric charging, biogas and Bio Diesel/GTL is around £500 million.
    If none of this latest announcement is to be expended on the Tyseley site the £30 million must be a subvention split over the 124 buses.
    This is where questions form in my head, averaged across the fleet that’s just under £242,000 per vehicle. Now we know that the typical cost for a hydrogen fuel cell bus lies in the range of £380-450,000, depending on type; Ballard BTW submitted evidence from to the Parliamentary Environmental Audit in June 2020 using a figure of £400k. That suggests the grant forms something between 40 and 63% of the cost of a bus depending whether part or all of the £242,000 is spent on the vehicles.
    Based on those figures and evidence from Montpellier earlier this year about the extremely high cost of operations I’d question the responsibility of buying so many hydrogen fuel cell buses.
    I’d be interested to see alternative costing.

    Comment by fammorris | March 31, 2022 | Reply

    • I think there’s a lot more to this than is obvious. A friend of mine, runs one of London’s bus concessions and used to manage the route in Birmingham, that is now run by hydrogen.

      He has made some interesting observations. For instance, the extreme range of the Wrightbus hydrogen buses would be very helpful on some problem routes. He has also said that some garages in London have terrible charging problems for battery buses, as getting in sufficient power is difficult.

      I also think that costings are skewed, as we have no comprehensive hydrogen plan. I have believed that there are civil servants with no technical knowledge blocking the deployment of battery trains for some time and perhaps they are also blocking the deployment of hydrogen, as England is well behind Scotland in this area. Their thoughts were probably fixed at the time of the Hindenberg.

      Comment by AnonW | March 31, 2022 | Reply

  2. The tram buses mentioned in the article are indeed like this van Hook vehicles. The original designation for these kinds of vehicles is BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and van Hool have have been a leader in their design. Scania, Mercedes, Volvo and Solaris are other European builders.
    The intended Swift route in the West Midlands should be ready for operation but will open using so called Platinum*, Wrightbus double deckers with the chosen BRT introduced in the next 12 – 18 months
    * Buses with livery theme to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee

    Comment by fammorris | March 31, 2022 | Reply


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