The Anonymous Widower

Solving The Problem With Electric Bus Design

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International.

The article opens with this paragraph.

A number of European cities have committed to securing only zero-emission buses by 2025. However, to achieve this objective, manufacturers must make bold design choices, radically changing bus componentry, systems, and bodywork. Here, it looks at the debate for greater electric bus design standardization.

Standardisation is one thing, but the article doesn’t talk about the major problem with electric bus design – For many countries like the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany, where there are lots of double-decker or articulated high-capacity buses, battery electric buses are just not big enough.

Battery-electric buses are also generally not big enough to compete with the latest designs of tram and metro systems.

These pictures show the Chinese double-deck electric double-deck buses, that ran in London.

Half of the downstairs was take up by batteries.

Where are they now?

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

But these buses are powered by hydrogen.

Similar buses running in Belfast are diesel-electric.

In both the Pau and Belfast applications, I wonderwhy they didn’t use trolley-bus versions of the WxquiCity or conventional trams.

Conclusion

Until we get more efficient battery storage, electric buses will have difficulty competing economically in the high-capacity bus sector.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 8 Comments

Wrightbus Boss Eyes All-Island Green Transport Plan

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

THE new owner of manufacturer Wrightbus says 12,000 buses on the island of Ireland as well as trains could be replaced with hydrogen engines to usher in a new era of environmentally friendly transport.

These points are made in the article.

  • Jo Bamford, who is the owner of Wrightbus, plans to decarbonise all buses and trains on the island.
  • A hydrogen infrastructure would need to be setup.
  • The Enterprise train between Belfast and Dublin would be run by hydrogen.
  • Jo Bamford has yet to talk to the Irish Government.
  • Wrightbus is seeking a £500m subsidy from the UK Government to built 3,000 hydrogen-powered buses by 2024.
  • This would bring 1,500 jobs to Ballymena.
  • The ydrogen-powered buses, will be the same price as diesel.
  • New Whightbus hydrogen buses will be on the streets of London and Aberdeen later this year.

This is one of the last paragraphs of the article.

He (Jo Bamford) said that the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the environment, with a clearer sky and cleaner air resulting from the fall in traffic, could be an inspiration for greener transport.

It may be an ambitious plan, but then you would expect ambition to be flowing in large quantifies in the veins of someone from the family, that gave us JCB.

Will Hydrogen Double-Deck Buses Become Commonplace?

There are now three different designs of hydrogen-powered double-deck bus in design, if not production.

There is also the hydrogen-powered version of the Van Hool ExquiCity tram-bus, that I wrote about in Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France.

There are some big players making large investments in hydrogen-powered buses. I suspect at least three and possibly all four will succeed.

Designing A Hydrogen-Powered Vehicle

Two hydrogen-powered vehicle designs have impressed me this week.

Both designs use the existing electric transmission and seem to have been relatively straightforward for experienced engineers who are working in the field.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see other suitable vehicles redesigned for hydrogen power.

April 29, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

What puzzles me, is why bus drivers in London, seem to be suffering more from COVID-19 infection, than drivers elsewhere!

In London, all buses have two or three doors and contactless ticketing, whereas in many parts of the UK, there is often only one door and no contactless ticketing.

This must mean, that there is generally less interaction between the driver and passengers in the capital. So logic would say, that outside of London, there should be more passing of infections between everybody on the bus.

An Observation In Manchester

Ten years ago, I observed behaviour on a single-door Manchester bus going to Oldham, with a union rep for bus drivers, who by chance happened to be sitting beside me.

The scrum as passengers entered and left the bus by the same door was horrific and the rep told me, that the local riff-raff were always trying to nick the driver’s money.

He told me, that a London system based on contactless ticketing was union policy and would cut attacks on staff, which he said had virtually stopped in London.

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

The government has said that millions will be available for new zero-carbon buses, powered by hydrogen. I doubt that batteries will be able to provide enough power for many years.

It is my belief that given the new circumstances, that the bus should also have the following features.

  • It should be as infection-unfriendly as possible, as COVID-19 won’t be the last deadly infection.
  • Contactless ticketing by credit card or pass.
  • Full CCTV  to identify non-payers or those with stolen cards.
  • Two doors with one in the middle for entry and one at the back for exit.
  • It would be possible on some routes for both doors to be used for entry and exit.
  • Wheelchairs would enter and leave by the middle door, where the ramp would be fitted.

I would put the stairs to the top deck on the left hand side of the bus, with the foot of the stairs leading directly into the lobby by the middle door.

The Van Hool ExquiCity

The Van Hool ExquiCity is an alternative solution, that is already running in Belfast, where it is named Glider.

It is probably best described as a double-ended articulated bus, that runs on rubber tyres, that thinks it’s a tram.

This press release from Ballard is entitled Ballard-Powered Fuel Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now in Revenue Service in France, describes the latest hydrogen-powered version of the Exquicity, which is now in service in Pau in France.

  • Each bus appears to be powered by a 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell.
  • The buses are over eighteen metres long.
  • Twenty-four metre double-articulated tram-buses are available.
  • The buses seat 125 passengers
  • The buses have a range of 300 kilometres between refuelling.

I like the concept, as it brings all the advantages of a tram at a lower cost.

Here’s a video.

It certainly seems a quiet bus.

I desperately need to get to Pau to see these vehicles.

Conclusion

We could design a new bus for the twenty-first century, that tackles the problems facing the bus industry.

  • Climate change and global warming.
  • Control of deadly infections like COVID-19.
  • Efficient, fast ticketing.
  • Attacks on staff.
  • Petty crime.
  • Access to public transport for the disabled, the elderly and those with reduced mobility.

We certainly have the skills to design and manufacture a suitable bus.

April 9, 2020 Posted by | Energy Storage, Health, Transport | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Consultation On The Cambridge Autonomous Metro

Issue 900 of Rail Magazine has an article called Have Your Say On Plans For Cambridge Metro Network.

These are the introductory paragraphs.

The Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority has launched a public consultation into outline plans for the Cambridge Autonomous Metro (CAM)

Under current proposals the CAM network would comprise a tunnelled section beneath Cambridge city centre, and four regional routes, radiating out towards St. Neots, Alconbury, Mildenhall and Haverhill.

This is a map clipped from the proposals.

Note.

Sections shown in green are tunnelled.

Sections shown in blue are on the surface.

Some sections would appear to reuse parts of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.

These are a few of my thoughts.

Rolling Stock

This picture from the consultation, shows possible rolling stock.

It could be a version of Van Hool’s ExquiCity BRT tram-bus, which is used is Belfast, Geneva, Metz and Parma – To name just four!

A hydrogen-powered version has also recently been introduced in Pau in France.

Could this be the version, that will be preferred for Cambridge?

  • It would be carbon and pollution free.
  • It could use exclusively green hydrogen, created from renewable electricity. Pau uses a hydrogen-generation system from ITM Power.
  • Would hydrogen-power encourage passengers to use the system?
  • It might borrow ideas from the Glider system in Belfast, which is diesel-electric powered.
  • Each Belfast Glider vehicle can hold 105 passengers.

A hydrogen-powered system would surely be ideal for working in the tunnels under Cambridge.

Tunnels

This article on the BBC is entitled Cambridge Metro: Engineer Says Underground Will Work.

In the article, Professor John Miles of Cambridge University says.

Britain was a world leader in boring small tunnels

It will be tight in the cramped city, but it should be possible.

Conclusion

Oxford will want one!

 

 

 

March 9, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ballard-Powered Fuel-Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now In Revenue Service In France

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Green Car Congress.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ballard Power Systems announcedthat 8 ExquiCity tram-buses built by Van Hool NV and powered by 8 Ballard FCveloCity-HD 100-kilowatt fuel cell modules have been inaugurated at a ceremony in Pau, France and are now in revenue service in Pau’s Bus Rapid Transit System.

The Van Hool ExquiCity tram buses have the following specification.

  • Two sections
  • Length – 18.6 metres (New Routemaster – 11.2 metres)
  • Width – 2.6 metres (New Routemaster – 2.52 metres)
  • Weight – 18.5 tonnes (New Routemaster – 12.8 tonnes)
  • Passengers – 125 (New Routemaster – 80-87 – More on a 21/38/73 in the Peak)
  • Hydrogen Range – 300 km.
  • Power – 100 kW (New Routemaster – 138 kW)

I have compared with a New Routemaster, as both vehicles are designed as hybrids with a power source charging a battery which drives the vehicle, through a Siemens traction motor.

The Glider buses in Belfast are diesel-electric hybrid versions of the ExquiCity.

Conclusion

I do wonder from looking at the comparison with a New Routemaster, that the ExquiCity could be an interesting way to get 56 % more passengers into 66 % more road space. But it may be more efficient to use two New Routemasters to carry 28 % more passengers in 29 % more road space than the ExquiCity.

It is interesting to note that the Mercedes Citaro bendy buses in London, which were so hated by motorists because they blocked junctions were also eighteen metres long like the ExquiCity.

Obviously, if buses ran on a separated bus way, the length is not a problem.

I do feel though, that a purpose-built hydrogen-powered double-deck bus, will be better for most UK towns and cities.

This article on the BBC is entitled Wrightbus Owner Jo Bamford Says Coming To NI Is Revelation.

This is a paragraph.

Mr Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, told BBC News NI he has a keen interest in the use of hydrogen to power buses and that was the main reason he got involved with Wrightbus.

Consider.

  • Wrightbus designed and built the chassis for the diesel-electric hybrid New Routemaster.
  • Wrightbus pioneered the low-floor bus.
  • In March 2015 JCB made a strategic investment of £4.9M in hydrogen company; ITM Power.
  • ITM Power built the hydrogen filling station for the ExquiCity tram-buses in Pau.

It looks to me, that Jo Bamford, with some help from his father, has assembled the components for a serious assault on the hydrogen bus market.

 

February 10, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment