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Olympic Games ground fuel-cell buses

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London’s fuel-cell buses have been taken out of service for the duration of the Olympic Games. The move comes as the supplier of London’s hydrogen bus fuelling station, Air Products, has reported that it has now completed 1,000 refuellings of the five Wrightbus-built fuel-cell buses being operated by First on behalf of Transport for London.

However vehicle availability has been poor at around just 50 per cent, caused not by in-service reliability, but by issues over maintenance and the sourcing of spare parts. The maintenance of the vehicles is carried out by a specialist contractor, not by First, and TfL is reviewing the maintenance contract. The problems in maintaining the buses have been attributed in part to a high turnover of engineering staff.

However Diana Raine, European business manager hydrogen energy systems at Air Products, is upbeat: “The Transport for London hydrogen bus fleet is a ground-breaking first for Europe and has been a great success to date. The fleet has shown Londoners that hydrogen transport offers a low carbon solution that not only offers zero emissions, but also delivers a real and practical alternative to the diesel powered bus.”

Air Products says that a bus will run for 18 hours on a tank of hydrogen. TfL says the buses cover 100 kilometres on nine kilogrammes of the fuel, but cannot put a cost-per-mile figure on the operation because of commercial sensitivity.

All five hydrogen buses are currently out of service because, as part of the planning permission for the refuelling station in East London, there was a stipulation that there would be no deliveries of hydrogen during the period of the Olympic Games. They are expected to re-enter service in September, by which time the fleet will number eight buses. They normally operate on the RV1 from Aldwych to Tower Gateway.

www.airproducts.co.uk

www.tfl.gov.uk

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