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Journey by Journey => Wales local journeys => Topic started by: grahame on January 11, 2020, 02:27:50 pm



Title: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: grahame on January 11, 2020, 02:27:50 pm
Electric trams ran in Cardiff from 1904 to 1950 - 46 years. Electric (trolley) buses ran in Cardiff from 1942 to 1970 - just under 30 years. How long will there be electric trains there?  Will they last longer than the trolley buses (i.e. beyond 2048)?   Will they last longer than the trams (i.e. beyond 2065), or will the electric trains be phased out once the vehicles and / or infrastructure wear out, as happened with the trams and trolley buses?

From BBC Wales (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-51034523)

Quote
Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?

They were the original electric buses but 50 years ago today saw the plug pulled on the last trolleybus in Wales.
Environmentally friendly and cheap, they finally succumbed to car ownership and fossil fuel on 11 January 1970.
Yet half a century later - almost to the day - local councils now see electric public transport as an answer to congestion and air pollution.

Some experts and enthusiasts even believe that shift could spark a revival for the forgotten trolleybus.
Known as the "trackless trolleys" when they first appeared on UK streets in 1911, trolleybuses became the workhorses of the public transport network.

Freed from the restrictions of tracks, taking their power from overhead cables, they provided clean, affordable and quick transport for the masses.

In Cardiff alone, more than six million journeys were taken in the first 12 months of the system opening on St David's Day in 1942.



Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: stuving on January 11, 2020, 03:55:21 pm
May I refer you to my recent post (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=14689.msg279864#msg279864) about resilience and flexibility? Trams lost out to motor buses because they were so easily blocked, and trolleybuses come somewhere between the two but still lost out. Since most companies would want to "borrow" town buses for other jobs   - almost bound to be off the wires - that would also count against them.

Electrifying trains gives two obvious losses of flexibility and resilience. Being restricted to electrified lines can be reduced in its importance by electrifying more, but it will be some time before wires reach almost everywhere. The issue of power cuts can be mitigated by an energy reserve (batteries), which can also help with some off-wire movements. So I think you can say it's a smaller effect here, and will get smaller still. Being easily blocked is inherent to being trains, wires or no wires.



Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 11, 2020, 07:37:35 pm
Trams are probably more likely to be blocked than trains as they share a greater length with other traffic. This leaves them vulnerable to general congestion and to the effects of car crashes.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Surrey 455 on January 12, 2020, 09:24:07 am
Many buses are now powered by electric batteries, so why go to the expense and hassle of putting up wires?


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: bobm on January 12, 2020, 10:27:07 am
The cost of re-routing wires in Reading to accommodate the then new one way system spelt the end for trolleybuses there in 1968.  There was also an increasing problem getting spares.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 12, 2020, 11:38:48 am
Now I would disagree with many here. I believe trolleybuses to be the missing link in transport in the U.K. Not the standard type of bus routes we saw in the past with trolleys, but tram like routes with large recognisable stops.

Electric battery buses are just different motive power. It's the same untrusted form of transport we have now that is subjected to last minute diversions, parked vehicles and counted as just another part of general traffic, not to say that they wouldn't be useful and desired for particular routes, I just don't think that they should have the job of providing main routes in urban areas.

Now I'm going to use the example of Reading's number 17 route here, as it's a successful corridor established for well over 100 years. The 17 was a trolleybus route up until 1968 and before that an electric and horse tram route across the town centre from east to west. Since the end of the trolleybuses, nothing has particularly changed about the bus route save for two short one way sections in the town centre, nothing has also changed in the style of how the route is operated either it's still a standard one person operation bus route. Now the way I see it, 50 years of fossil fuels have been burnt at the point of operation since the end of the trolleybuses for the sake of perceived flexibility on a route corridor that never changes. Yes, it's been diverted for RTCs and roadworks but should we be basing reliable transport on the potential for things to go wrong? Or should we make them permanent and obvious? Roadworks should be arranged around the public transport not the other way round, even though it is convenient for authorities. RTCs are also something which we should be aiming to have less of, not building the potential for them occurring into public transport, and more public transport could potentially mean less of them. As far as public transport running in regular traffic is concerned, the 17 route in particular has a lot of dedicated lanes and Britain's first bus contraflow lane (designed to avoid rerouting the trolleys) which helps it be a successful corridor, but there are still some areas where it sits in traffic such as the Oxford Road. This regular traffic that holds buses up is the exact thing that we are trying to get rid of, so if we get it right, my thinking is that this traffic will no longer hold the transport up in these locations.

If our transport routes are supposed to stay fixed and permanent, why not make the power feed permanent too. Now you could put battery buses on the 17 tomorrow and have the same thing, right? I disagree. Whilst emissions at the point of use will be the same there are three advantages of providing a permanent power feed. One is the obvious public transport corridor provided by the overhead (similar to a street with tram tracks), two is avoiding unnecessary continual replacement of batteries and the disposal of their waste products (something which is only going to increase), three is the vehicles location can be accurately placed and, perhaps not considered before, signal controlled for the benefit of busy stops. Permanent feed also decides what type of vehicle an operator can use and standardises design. Modern trolleybuses do have batteries for off wire running to garages and to extend routes into other areas and this makes sense, but I personally think that the main continually used corridors should have permanent power feed available. Batteries aren't the solution, just part of it.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 12, 2020, 01:38:16 pm
Good points but I can't help thinking, in that case why not put down rails and run it as a tram? It would be more efficient and more permanent and easier to avoid in terms of roadworks etc.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: broadgage on January 12, 2020, 02:32:08 pm
I favour the reintroduction of trolley buses.
No pollution at the point of use, and less pollution in total since a significant and growing proportion of UK electricity is from renewables.
Modern batteries would permit of some miles of battery operation, but to keep the cost, weight, and bulk of the battery within reason, then the majority of the route would have to be wired.
Limited battery operation permits of passing under bridges too low for the overhead, allows trolley buses to cross electric railways at level crossings, and greatly simplifies the overhead at complex road junctions.

Trolley bus infrastructure could be used by approved delivery trucks and other vehicles, thereby further reducing pollution.

Trams are in some respects preferable but are more costly and less flexible.

IMHO, we need a national standard for trolley bus infrastructure, to stop each local authority developing their own unique type that is not inter operable. The VEHICLES can be different if required but a trolley bus, or a truck from one town should be able to utilise the overhead in ANY town.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on January 12, 2020, 02:37:19 pm
Good points but I can't help thinking, in that case why not put down rails and run it as a tram? It would be more efficient and more permanent and easier to avoid in terms of roadworks etc.

Indeed so. We tried the internal combustion engine, it brought flexibility to the table, but at enormous environmental cost. Routes that haven't changed in decades should have rails put down and the single overhead cable needed for the job. Where space permits, the route should be segregated. This would take advantage of the economic advantages of trams - fewer parts, lower friction, longer lifespan, higher passenger loads - with buses going where they can't or where it isn't economic to run trams.

We tried diesel, it worked reasonably well, but time to move on. Leeds submitted plans for trolley buses when their plans for trams were binned by the government, to be told that the costs far outweighed the benefits when compared to Euro VI standard diesel buses. The mind set that downgraded modern trams to diesel buses needs to change. Trolley buses are a middle ground solution.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 12, 2020, 03:00:56 pm
Interoperability of trolleybuses from one town to another isn't really necessary unless we anticipate services from one town to another, which would then necessitate the wiring of interurban main roads. But it's clearly advantageous in terms of keeping costs down to have a national standard, and not just national, the larger, the more effective. Several countries in Europe use trolleybuses; I don't know if there's any kind of EN for pick-ups and so on but we already have pan-European standards on electricity distribution so it should be possible to develop on. Well, maybe.  :-\


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: broadgage on January 12, 2020, 03:06:31 pm
I was suggesting inter operability partly to keep costs down, but also in case interurban services are required in the future.
I also hope that trolley bus infrastructure could be used by delivery trucks. Persuading logistics firms to buy trolley trucks might be a struggle, persuading them to buy a different design for each town seems unlikely.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 12, 2020, 03:22:42 pm
Trolley-trucks have been used in a couple of places. I think, off the top of my head, Sweden and California. Clearly you need somewhere that the same vehicles are used on the same routes and no others for it to work (just like trolleybuses, really).


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on January 12, 2020, 06:48:09 pm
I was suggesting inter operability partly to keep costs down, but also in case interurban services are required in the future.
I also hope that trolley bus infrastructure could be used by delivery trucks. Persuading logistics firms to buy trolley trucks might be a struggle, persuading them to buy a different design for each town seems unlikely.

I agree - standardised components would keep costs down.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 13, 2020, 10:39:32 pm
Interoperability of trolleybuses from one town to another isn't really necessary unless we anticipate services from one town to another, which would then necessitate the wiring of interurban main roads. But it's clearly advantageous in terms of keeping costs down to have a national standard, and not just national, the larger, the more effective. Several countries in Europe use trolleybuses; I don't know if there's any kind of EN for pick-ups and so on but we already have pan-European standards on electricity distribution so it should be possible to develop on. Well, maybe.  :-\

What is entirely plausible though is for an interurban bus to run as a trolleybus to the edge of one town, run diesel or battery between, then join the wires of another towns system at the edge to run to the centre. It would depend of the frequency of your service on whether a route would be worth wiring between two towns. Reading to Wokingham for example would probably be a reasonable distance to wire all the way if the popularity of public transport rises.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 14, 2020, 09:00:01 am
Sounds feasible if the batteries have enough capacity. And in practice such a standard should enable interoperability (which again in practice is going to depend on local politics and commercial decisions).


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: stuving on January 14, 2020, 08:07:03 pm
Sounds feasible if the batteries have enough capacity.

I've been hearing for years about how batteries are getting better (implying more capacity per weight or volume) and prices falling rapidly. But electric cars haven't dropped so far in their prices, and for heavier traction uses (buses, trams, then trains) they still seem to be doing experiments and trials. And have you asked yourselves why new (non-electric) cars are still sold with lead-acid batteries?

There does seem to be an underlying problem with LI-ion batteries for traction: they can't really cope with the high peak power. So in their Nice wireless trams, Alstom have used supercapacitors (with some battery too, I think). Vivarail have not chosen batteries based on those in cars, and have changed their supplier (and we are still waiting to see one).

By coincidence I just read about a French company announcing they will start making sodium-ion car batteries later this year. One of the pluses of Na-ion is its much higher power (not energy) density than Li-ion, its ruggedness (e.g. likes being kept uncharged, which wrecks Li-ion) as well as not needing any cobalt or other exotica - nor lithium. Of course lead-acid batteries have only a moderate tolerance for this kind of abuse - though they make up for this by cheapness, and by not having the kind of incendiary tantrums the Li-ion ones do. Na-ion promises to be ruggeder than lead-acid, and to outlast the car; though we all know that developers' promises are a breed of gift horse.

How big a factor this is for Li-ion I'm not sure. In all the talk recently about fast chargers for cars for use en route, I've never heard anyone say how much they shorten your battery's life - but they do, don't they? There are a lot of alternatives to Li-ion being worked on, none of which has come good yet ... but I guess one should sooner or later.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on January 14, 2020, 11:18:06 pm
There's a chap reckons he has solved the conundrum of making durable Aluminium-Air batteries to the point where they will be viable for electric cars, but is running up against the vested interests in the other materials used in making batteries. The theory is good, but so is that for nuclear fusion at room temperature.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on January 14, 2020, 11:33:38 pm
There's a chap reckons he has solved the conundrum of making durable Aluminium-Air batteries to the point where they will be viable for electric cars, but is running up against the vested interests in the other materials used in making batteries. The theory is good, but so is that for nuclear fusion at room temperature.

There seems to be a strong theoretical basis for Aluminium Air batteries. The problem is the practical one of implementation which may or may not be solvable.

Cold fusion on the other hand - to quote Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion)
Quote
There is currently no accepted theoretical model that would allow cold fusion to occur.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: mjones on January 15, 2020, 06:21:59 am
Stuving "for heavier traction uses (buses, trams, then trains) they still seem to be doing experiments and trials"

Electric bus use is now well  beyond trials. There are over 200 in London and more planned. Thousands in China.

https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/london-has-europes-largest-electric-bus-fleet


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: SandTEngineer on January 15, 2020, 10:21:11 am
This cropped up elsewhere.  Open top electric trams......... ::) :P ;D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-vzquULeQ4


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: grahame on January 15, 2020, 10:30:12 am
This cropped up elsewhere.  Open top electric trams......... ::) :P ;D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-vzquULeQ4

Still do on the Seaton Tramway ...


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 15, 2020, 12:11:17 pm
Questions to gauge opinion here.

If Cardiff still had it's core trolleybus routes today, some perhaps extended, and the vehicles advancing to a tram like, large platformed stop arrangement as I described, would they be seen as an asset? Or would we still be looking to loose the overhead in favour of technology we are still waiting to be perfected and become affordable? 

Wellington in New Zealand has recently (and rather foolishly) removed it's overhead in favour of battery buses that still aren't available so it's begun running diesel buses.

Edit: It appears Wellington have ten battery buses now.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 15, 2020, 01:32:46 pm
Battery buses are definitely available and running in a variety of cities, from Wellington to Warsaw (http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=21250.msg261009#msg261009) via Bristol. (https://www.firstgroup.com/bristol-bath-and-west/routes-and-maps/electricity)


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 15, 2020, 01:56:59 pm
I meant specifically Wellington's battery buses. They were/are waiting for them to be built.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on January 15, 2020, 02:51:40 pm
Oh, fair enough. How many more are they waiting for, do you know?


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Electric train on January 15, 2020, 04:55:10 pm
Town and City corporations had to make decisions in the 1960's as far as local public transports was concerned.  Diesel engine busses could be purchased at a lower cost than maintaining / renewing tram and trolley bus systems; many of which were pre WW2 especially the power supply equipment.  Also diesel engine busses gave far greater flexibility of routes.

People look back with nostalgia at trams and trolley busses, but would people use them any more than a diesel engine bus?


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 15, 2020, 06:03:14 pm
Town and City corporations had to make decisions in the 1960's as far as local public transports was concerned.  Diesel engine busses could be purchased at a lower cost than maintaining / renewing tram and trolley bus systems; many of which were pre WW2 especially the power supply equipment.  Also diesel engine busses gave far greater flexibility of routes.

People look back with nostalgia at trams and trolley busses, but would people use them any more than a diesel engine bus?

Not necessarily true, trolleybuses were still cheaper and would last longer in the 1960's. In Reading's case it was a number of factors which led to their demise, and at the beginning of the 1960's, when many places had done away with their trolleys because the first generation of vehicles was up for renewal, Reading didn't envisage disposing of theirs. A DfT one way system was forced upon the in the late 60's and this probably had the biggest effect on Reading's trolleys. The second reason was the single supplier in the U.K of the overhead equipment lost their biggest customer, London, and consequently stopped manufacturing the equipment. Reading and several other operators of trolleys did get quotes from abroad for the equipment. Reading's system was lost on one vote within the council and I do think, had it have made it into the mid 70's it would probably exist today (and be much larger).You could suggest that the much loved Routemaster bus in London was what killed off trolleybuses in the U.K.  :D

Reading's two most popular bus routes were trolley routes and neither have changed route since the demise of trolleys save for the noted one way sections in the town centre, so why is greater flexibility necessary with public transport?

As far as nostalgia is concerned, my opinion is not driven by it, I was born long after the trolleybuses disappeared in Reading but I drove Reading's buses for twenty years and it has always struck me as an enormous piece of short term thinking and budgeting burning all that diesel, and now CNG, for 50 years on routes that don't change. I've ridden on the modern trolley system in Solingen, Germany and it basically operates as a tramway and tramways are always more popular to the travelling public than the diesel OPO bus. One of the problems this country has is not being willing to use tried and tested infrastructure for new projects (third rail included here) and continually waiting for the latest thing to come along, it's why nothing ends up standardised, or changing in areas like urban public transport. The nation also find it hard to use what worked in the first place and continually question the cost of anything at a point in time, rather than over fifty years, and look to renew, update and clear out the old. It's why we're in this position currently with public transport and it's why we have absolutely no chance of meeting any climate targets set. It's worth noting that the deep level tubes in London are old technology but still enormously necessary and do the job and the internal combustion engine is just as old as electric trams and trolleybuses. It is also worth noting that the subject of this very forum is fixed infrastructure that's very popular, so popular that people have based their lives around it.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 15, 2020, 06:34:50 pm
Oh, fair enough. How many more are they waiting for, do you know?

I find varying amounts but 32 appears to be the most quoted figure, to replace 60 trolleybuses.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reginald25 on January 16, 2020, 10:04:12 am
I went to Uni at Reading just before the closure of trolley system, and remember travelling on the 17 trolley route at least once. Although trolleys are better or the environment and a quieter for the passengers, with modern traffic and roadworks/diversions an independent vehicle  wins hand down. Nlot sure how realistic a trolley bus with battery power for diversions and short hops would be.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: mjones on January 16, 2020, 10:23:24 am
Interestingly,  cities that kept their trolleys are starting to add batteries both for flexibility and to extend routes away from the wires. This combines the benefits of both, and avoids the need for very large batteries.

E.g

https://www.kiepe.knorr-bremse.com/news/press-releases/12-innovative-battery-powered-trolleybuses-for-zurich


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 16, 2020, 12:28:14 pm
Interestingly,  cities that kept their trolleys are starting to add batteries both for flexibility and to extend routes away from the wires. This combines the benefits of both, and avoids the need for very large batteries.

E.g

https://www.kiepe.knorr-bremse.com/news/press-releases/12-innovative-battery-powered-trolleybuses-for-zurich


And this is the model we should be following
Cheers.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on January 16, 2020, 01:26:19 pm
I went to Uni at Reading just before the closure of trolley system, and remember travelling on the 17 trolley route at least once. Although trolleys are better or the environment and a quieter for the passengers, with modern traffic and roadworks/diversions an independent vehicle  wins hand down. Nlot sure how realistic a trolley bus with battery power for diversions and short hops would be.

Is the flexibility a good thing on road based public transport? Or is it the very reason more don't use buses? How often do we need to divert public transport compared to the benefit of a fixed route? Do we divert our current form of urban transport too often as it's too easy and convenient to? Will we rid ourselves of modern traffic conditions if we get the public transport right in the first place?

Yesterday I walked past a bus stop on a major road into the town centre. It had a yellow box painted on the road, a pole with flag and, on the opposite side of the road, many buses on different routes leaving the town centre. Yet not a single bus route passes this stop. Instead they all turn off and head down a side road for the sake of convenience to avoid a set of traffic lights. Now an outsider, or even somebody local to the town who doesn't use public transport often, could potentially be wandering past and think, I'll get to where I'm going quicker if I wait there. There is nothing immediately obvious that suggests no route passes this point, in fact the bus stop does the opposite as it's placed on a major road on the way into the town.
Trolleybus overhead or tram tracks in the road does more than power and guide the vehicles, it provides an obvious corridor on which to build trust, and I believe trust and the longevity of service is what makes public transport popular in much the same way as the railway or a metro system. Yes we can have the potential and opportunity to divert these things when they go wrong, and batteries provide that, but  we should also be looking to provide something as permanent as a railway line or tramway in our towns, cities and conurbations.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: onthecushions on January 16, 2020, 10:38:22 pm
..and Reading's Sunbeam S7's seated 68 (with a 95HP traction motor) versus their later AEC Regent III's  53.

The wires came down in '68.

OTC


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: stuving on February 28, 2020, 06:20:17 pm
National Express Group published their annual results yesterday along with the following promise (https://www.nationalexpressgroup.com/newsmedia/corporate-news/2020/national-express-group-sets-out-zero-emission-vision/):
Quote
National Express Group sets out zero emission vision

National Express Group today outlines its vision to become the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company.

National Express Group today announces:

  •     We will not buy another diesel bus for our UK operations;
  •     We will lead the transition to zero emission coaches, with a target for the first electric coaches to be in service next year;
  •     An ambition that our UK bus and UK coach fleets will be fully zero emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively;
  •     Environmental targets will make up 25% of senior executive Long Term Incentive Plans.

This new vision follows our sustained investment in Euro VI vehicles, way ahead of Clean Air Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone requirements. National Express Group has also been one of the first transport companies to adopt the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s methodology for setting its carbon reduction targets.

National Express Group recognises the importance of operators playing their role in delivering public policy ambitions. The recent government announcement of a £5 billion bus fund, the pro-public transport policies of the Mayor of the West Midlands and the ambitious vision set out in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan all show there is a desire for leadership and change. National Express Group is determined to be part of that change and to demonstrate that leadership.

National Express Group will shortly launch a procurement competition to choose the manufacturers and partners to help achieve these ambitions. This year we will:

  •     Place a major order for electric buses to add to our first zero emission vehicles which will shortly enter service in the West Midlands;
  •     Hold an in-service trial of an electric coach on our Stansted Airport service;
  •     Select partners to develop a zero emission vehicle suitable for all long distance coach routes.

With significant operations overseas, National Express Group will also look to apply this leadership to these businesses shortly and set equally ambitious objectives.

That maybe needs a bit of interpretation: new electric buses will go onto the "easier" routes that current buses can cope with, while diesels off those cascade onto "harder" routes to replace old buses being retired from them. Obviously they expect battery/bus capability to keep up with the need to replace diesel buses on harder routes as time goes on.

The Times report of this has fleet numbers, which are hard to find otherwise: 1600 for its owned fleet and 770 for NEx liveried coaches, said to be all owned by third parties (NEx say only 80% are). It also says those third parties have been set a target of 15 years for zero emissions in their fleets.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on February 28, 2020, 09:06:19 pm
National Express Group published their annual results yesterday along with the following promise (https://www.nationalexpressgroup.com/newsmedia/corporate-news/2020/national-express-group-sets-out-zero-emission-vision/):
Quote
National Express Group sets out zero emission vision

National Express Group today outlines its vision to become the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company.

National Express Group today announces:

  •     We will not buy another diesel bus for our UK operations;
  •     We will lead the transition to zero emission coaches, with a target for the first electric coaches to be in service next year;
  •     An ambition that our UK bus and UK coach fleets will be fully zero emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively;
  •     Environmental targets will make up 25% of senior executive Long Term Incentive Plans.

This new vision follows our sustained investment in Euro VI vehicles, way ahead of Clean Air Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone requirements. National Express Group has also been one of the first transport companies to adopt the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s methodology for setting its carbon reduction targets.

National Express Group recognises the importance of operators playing their role in delivering public policy ambitions. The recent government announcement of a £5 billion bus fund, the pro-public transport policies of the Mayor of the West Midlands and the ambitious vision set out in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan all show there is a desire for leadership and change. National Express Group is determined to be part of that change and to demonstrate that leadership.

National Express Group will shortly launch a procurement competition to choose the manufacturers and partners to help achieve these ambitions. This year we will:

  •     Place a major order for electric buses to add to our first zero emission vehicles which will shortly enter service in the West Midlands;
  •     Hold an in-service trial of an electric coach on our Stansted Airport service;
  •     Select partners to develop a zero emission vehicle suitable for all long distance coach routes.

With significant operations overseas, National Express Group will also look to apply this leadership to these businesses shortly and set equally ambitious objectives.

That maybe needs a bit of interpretation: new electric buses will go onto the "easier" routes that current buses can cope with, while diesels off those cascade onto "harder" routes to replace old buses being retired from them. Obviously they expect battery/bus capability to keep up with the need to replace diesel buses on harder routes as time goes on.

The Times report of this has fleet numbers, which are hard to find otherwise: 1600 for its owned fleet and 770 for NEx liveried coaches, said to be all owned by third parties (NEx say only 80% are). It also says those third parties have been set a target of 15 years for zero emissions in their fleets.

The cynics (and there may be some among our number) could break this down further:

Quote
We will not buy another diesel bus for our UK operations

We may buy electric buses, gas buses like MetroBust (better than diesel but still emitting CO2), or we may keep running the existing fleet in the hope of something new arriving soon. The last seems unlikely, the first suffers from being a developing technology, so gas seems the most probable in the shorter term, hopefully as something of a stopgap. Of course, there remains an option to lease buses rather than buy them.
 
Quote
We will lead the transition to zero emission coaches, with a target for the first electric coaches to be in service next year
First have a couple of electric buses in service, which are not accorded rock star status these days. A couple of electric coaches running a short route would satisfy this, give the chance for ongoing publicity when they are delivered, and tick a box while someone finds a way to make electric coaches as usable and flexible as diesel coaches.

Quote
An ambition that our UK bus and UK coach fleets will be fully zero emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively
Fine, unless it's achieved by crafty accountancy or by transferring the problem to somewhere else, such as destroying rainforest to grow bio diesel crops. Whoever decided on those dates probably retires just before one of them.

Quote
Environmental targets will make up 25% of senior executive Long Term Incentive Plans.

I have worked in an environment where the achievement of targets affects salary. All else goes out the window in what was eventually recognised as "target-driven perverse behaviour".

Quote
Place a major order for electric buses to add to our first zero emission vehicles which will shortly enter service in the West Midlands

Somebody had to be first, and I hope it goes very well. The West Midlands is a good place to start because of size, existing transport links, engineering history, and the political will.

Quote
Hold an in-service trial of an electric coach on our Stansted Airport service
Again, someone has to be first! It is more ambitious than the Bristol buses, being 40 miles each way, assuming we are talking about the London Victoria service.

Quote
Select partners to develop a zero emission vehicle suitable for all long distance coach routes.
This is the one that I shall watch with the greatest interest. I hope it doesn't turn out to have the wriggle room of the Bristol mayor's "mass transit system", and that zero emission means what it says. As opposed to filthy, with a few trees planted somewhere. Hopefully, our recent pending exit from the single market won't get in the way too much, and there will be many possible partners to choose from. There is a chance for someone to grab a significant slice of a huge market, and it would be nice to see a British firm taking the lead.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Bmblbzzz on February 29, 2020, 09:56:20 am
Quote
An ambition that our UK bus and UK coach fleets will be fully zero emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively
Fine, unless it's achieved by crafty accountancy or by transferring the problem to somewhere else, such as destroying rainforest to grow bio diesel crops. Whoever decided on those dates probably retires just before one of them.
My first reaction to this is that – if they really do mean zero emission rather than "net zero" – it shows how unambitious the government target of no new fully-ICE (ie still allowing hybrids) cars after 2035 is.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on February 29, 2020, 11:40:37 am
My first reaction to this is that – if they really do mean zero emission rather than "net zero" – it shows how unambitious the government target of no new fully-ICE (ie still allowing hybrids) cars after 2035 is.

My thinking too. Worse than that, when I worked for the government, the jargon was that targets had to be SMART, the middle three of the acronym being Measurable, Achievable, and Realistic (I never got round to learning the other two). Measurable should be obvious enough, so long as the parameters are set in stone, although politicians have shied away from doing that other than metaphorically since the Ed Stone. For the other two to be valid, someone clever in authority needs to have a strategy of some sort, with stages that can be signed off on the way to the achievement. If there is one that is fully joined up, I haven't spotted it yet.

At the moment, the surprise world leader in electric buses is China, with over 400,000 or 99% of the world's total. Finding a total for the UK isn't proving easy, but it seems to be under 400, out of a total of around 34,000 (figure from Financial Times, November 2019) (https://www.ft.com/content/5c81dee4-ffe1-11e9-b7bc-f3fa4e77dd47), with London having the vast majority. So we need 33,600 electric buses to replace the existing fleet, costing roughly double the price of a diesel bus. That comes to about the same as Crossrail, without the charging infrastructure and / overhead cables, rejig of the National Grid and sources of the extra electricity. £50 million won't go too far in achieving that.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: smokey on February 29, 2020, 12:19:53 pm
A Question please,

Can Trams and Trolley buses run along the same routes?

I'd say NO but hope someone can clarify the issue.

I base the Can't share the same routes on this beauty.

Trams use a pantograph to collect power from overhead lines and return the current through the rails just the Overhead powered trains.

Trolley buses have normal tyred road wheels and don't have steel wheels or rails.  ??? ???

Trolley buses have a contact pole that makes contact with a Twin overhead wire.

More to the point some 50% off road vehicle pollution comes from Tyre particles and brake dust and the particles from Tyres really are UNPLEASANT.

So the future should be TRAMS and not Trolley buses  ;)



Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on February 29, 2020, 01:16:47 pm
Quite rightly the future for most places should be trams but, even with rubber tyres, trolleybuses are far more affordable than trams for towns and the smaller cities, possibly more affordable over time than battery powered. Our buried utilities is what normally poses the biggest problem for laying tram tracks, that and a reluctance to have permanent infrastructured public transport sharing roadspace with the motor car.  A combination of both tram and trolleybus is possible as seen in several European cities.

In the past trams had a single trolley pole pick up on overhead rather than the pantograph style and this allowed trolleybuses and trams to use a common route with the tram simply using one of the wires on the overhead and trolleys using two. There are definitely common paths  in Europe used by both, the old town in Bern springs to mind, and I'm not sure how its done now but I'm going to have a dig round after lunch to find out.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on February 29, 2020, 02:10:16 pm
So here is how Geneva do it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG_HtJUVMxc

Rather than complicate things they simply use three wires.  :)

Bern looks like they do the same. They will both probably share sub-stations though.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on February 29, 2020, 05:43:26 pm
Quite rightly the future for most places should be trams but, even with rubber tyres, trolleybuses are far more affordable than trams for towns and the smaller cities, possibly more affordable over time than battery powered.

The last attempt was in Leeds, which like Bristol lost out on trams in 2005. While Bristol went for MetroBust, Leeds planned NGT, or New Generation Transport, Trolley buses. The plans were finally binned after a public inquiry in 2016, not because of local opposition but because diesel engines had evolved to the point that the benefits no longer outweighed the costs, and that even under electric power, transport in Leeds would not be improved much. That probably wouldn't happen today. The decision is here (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522555/leeds_trolley-vehicle-planning_permission_letter.pdf).


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: broadgage on February 29, 2020, 06:46:31 pm
Yes, as has already been said, trams and trolley buses CAN run on the same route, but so dong introduces electrical complications. The easiest approach is use of three wires.

Trolley buses should produce far less dust from tyres and brakes than engine driven vehicles due to the use of regenerative braking.
The carbon emissions are much reduced by use of trolley buses instead of engine driven cars.
Trams should be better still since the reduced friction reduces energy use.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on February 29, 2020, 07:21:03 pm
I think that was a particularly unambitious plan for Leeds, which is a much better candidate for trams, and should rightly feel annoyed that they lost out in 2005. Trolleybuses cannot carry the capacity a tram can but they could carry more than a bus. A big part of the problem with the Leeds NGT was that it was being touted as an equivalent to a tram rather than as a higher capacity electrified bus route to the public, while viewed as nothing more than an expensive bus route by those that dish out the money. That said I think if permission was granted, you would have seen a rapid expansion to the system as benefits would have occurred over the standard diesel double deck bus, the routes permanence being one of them. Beyond that, we could have seen other plans appear elsewhere and all have the possibility of electric transport returning to our towns and cities. Over time it would surely have benefitted Leeds and probably been a catalyst for the route to have rails laid much like what has occurred on popular trolleybus routes in Switzerland and France.  In the U.K we should really see the importance of fixed path infrastructure like overhead lines, tramlines in the road and even branch railway lines, and protect them for future generations, rather than making cost judgements for our own lifetimes or because something new might advance. Technology that has existed for a long time is still worth investing in even if something new has replaced it.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on February 29, 2020, 08:46:59 pm
I think that was a particularly unambitious plan for Leeds, which is a much better candidate for trams, and should rightly feel annoyed that they lost out in 2005. Trolleybuses cannot carry the capacity a tram can but they could carry more than a bus. A big part of the problem with the Leeds NGT was that it was being touted as an equivalent to a tram rather than as a higher capacity electrified bus route to the public, while viewed as nothing more than an expensive bus route by those that dish out the money. That said I think if permission was granted, you would have seen a rapid expansion to the system as benefits would have occurred over the standard diesel double deck bus, the routes permanence being one of them. Beyond that, we could have seen other plans appear elsewhere and all have the possibility of electric transport returning to our towns and cities. Over time it would surely have benefitted Leeds and probably been a catalyst for the route to have rails laid much like what has occurred on popular trolleybus routes in Switzerland and France.  In the U.K we should really see the importance of fixed path infrastructure like overhead lines, tramlines in the road and even branch railway lines, and protect them for future generations, rather than making cost judgements for our own lifetimes or because something new might advance. Technology that has existed for a long time is still worth investing in even if something new has replaced it.

If that was unambitious, what was Bristol's MetroBust? At least Leeds would have cut emissions within the route to almost nil. MetroBust did this by specifying electric buses, which became Euro VI diesel as a minimum, but gas powered shortly after the routes opened, but then so are a lot of "normal" buses in Bristol.

One of the factors given against trams by the Local Enterprise Partnership was that they run on fixed routes. As RG says, this is actually an advantage once the utilities have been moved, and development grows along good transport links. So long as they go close enough to major residential areas to get people out of cars, and MetroBust doesn't go particularly close to some major areas it is said to serve, then why not?

Relaying of utilities is something that is likely to happen soon anyway with upgrades to electricity supplies, replacement of gas pipes to cope with hydrogen, and who knows what for TV, phones and internet. There is an argument for doing all of this in a shallow tunnel under the pavement. Other places manage perfectly well with rails on streets. Leeds, Bristol, Reading and other places of a similar size should be encouraged to build tramways to complement heavy rail, especially if the recent Court of Appeal ruling regarding emissions and transport means that the road building budget can't be spent on roads. It will be expensive to build but economical to run. The operating profit from Manchester's trams, said to be over £1.50 per journey, is used on building more tramway and repaying the loans taken out to build the existing network, so why not ask for their expertise to be shared? If we, as a country, have to make major strategic decisions on the future of transport, it would be a good idea to do it properly rather than putting sticking plasters on the problems.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on February 29, 2020, 09:14:51 pm
Relaying of utilities is something that is likely to happen soon anyway with upgrades to electricity supplies, replacement of gas pipes to cope with hydrogen, and who knows what for TV, phones and internet.

There has been a massive programme of cast iron gas main upgrading anyway for safety reasons  with methane, but this has largely been done by relining the pipe with a plastic pipe. Moving pipes would be another game entirely. 

I do not think that further changes to mains will be necessary for a change to hydrogen even though H2 is a smaller molecule.   


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on February 29, 2020, 10:10:14 pm


One of the factors given against trams by the Local Enterprise Partnership was that they run on fixed routes. As RG says, this is actually an advantage once the utilities have been moved, and development grows along good transport links. So long as they go close enough to major residential areas to get people out of cars, and MetroBust doesn't go particularly close to some major areas it is said to serve, then why not?



  There is a thinking in the U.K that tram routes must be segregated and run along former rail lines than main roads into cities. Some sections of systems are based on former rail lines yes, but really the tram is go anywhere, within reason. This thinking appears to be based on accommodating mass moving public transport AND continued mass car use, i.e the tram will not be able to move along the main road quickly as there will be traffic congestion there. But, if we design our public transport routes properly in the first place we will manage to reduce the congestion, even on the busiest of corridors.
  As to why infrastructure free transport is preferred, short term cost aside, it is probably again factoring that the traffic will always be there, plus an attempt to replicate the convenience of motor car freedom with our public transport. 
  It's about time we began to tackle congestion, rather than avoid it, and our main roads becoming available for our most dominant form of urban transport in the future be that trams or trolleybuses.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: stuving on February 29, 2020, 10:24:12 pm
Relaying of utilities is something that is likely to happen soon anyway with upgrades to electricity supplies, replacement of gas pipes to cope with hydrogen, and who knows what for TV, phones and internet.

There has been a massive programme of cast iron gas main upgrading anyway for safety reasons  with methane, but this has largely been done by relining the pipe with a plastic pipe. Moving pipes would be another game entirely. 

I do not think that further changes to mains will be necessary for a change to hydrogen even though H2 is a smaller molecule.   

There are two potential problems with hydrogen in current mains. The big high-pressure mains put in for natural gas can't be used as the steel would suffer embrittlement. So that's one one big programme of street digging if it goes ahead, though quite what the replacement pipes would be isn't clear (nor if there is a viable one).

Low pressure and house mains would have more hydrogen leakage through the solid walls than of methane, but still so small no-one would miss it. However, if it accumulates in closed spaces, the greater explosion hazard of hydrogen (lower ignition energy and wider explosive mixture range) does raise serious issues. Again, it's not clear if anything better is available, but the real issue may be that we need bigger pipes (lower volumetric energy capacity and higher total demand for domestic CHP). If trenchless methods can't do that size increase, even with developments, then all our streets get shredded. But it's by no means certain we'll go down that route. 


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: martyjon on March 01, 2020, 08:54:00 am
This cropped up elsewhere.  Open top electric trams......... ::) :P ;D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-vzquULeQ4


When Bristol had trams they were all open top, find a photo anywhere of a closed top tram running in Bristol.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: martyjon on March 01, 2020, 09:03:08 am
A Question please,

Can Trams and Trolley buses run along the same routes?

I'd say NO but hope someone can clarify the issue.

I base the Can't share the same routes on this beauty.

Trams use a pantograph to collect power from overhead lines and return the current through the rails just the Overhead powered trains.

Trolley buses have normal tyred road wheels and don't have steel wheels or rails.  ??? ???

Trolley buses have a contact pole that makes contact with a Twin overhead wire.

More to the point some 50% off road vehicle pollution comes from Tyre particles and brake dust and the particles from Tyres really are UNPLEASANT.

So the future should be TRAMS and not Trolley buses  ;)


Just replace the pantograph with 2 poles, simple.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on March 01, 2020, 01:24:24 pm
There are two potential problems with hydrogen in current mains. The big high-pressure mains put in for natural gas can't be used as the steel would suffer embrittlement. So that's one one big programme of street digging if it goes ahead, though quite what the replacement pipes would be isn't clear (nor if there is a viable one).

Low pressure and house mains would have more hydrogen leakage through the solid walls than of methane, but still so small no-one would miss it. However, if it accumulates in closed spaces, the greater explosion hazard of hydrogen (lower ignition energy and wider explosive mixture range) does raise serious issues. Again, it's not clear if anything better is available, but the real issue may be that we need bigger pipes (lower volumetric energy capacity and higher total demand for domestic CHP). If trenchless methods can't do that size increase, even with developments, then all our streets get shredded. But it's by no means certain we'll go down that route. 

I had not considered the transmission network, but that is a relatively small part of the network by length. 

You make some good points on the distribution mains though.  I would suggest there would first be an emphasis on energy conservation from a policy point of view as well as cost that might reduce the need for additional capacity.  I expect hydrogen to be more expensive than methane so I doubt whether the economics of CHP would stack up against grid power.   


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 01, 2020, 02:04:46 pm
The older members here, myself included, will recall when hydrogen was piped to homes and businesses in large quantities. It took a decade to convert the UK to run on natural gas, and the "town gas" produced from coal was still being burned somewhere in 1976. That varied in composition, but was up to 60% hydrogen by volume. (It also contained other goodies like methane and carbon monoxide, the latter making sticking your head in the oven a popular suicide method.) 40 million appliances were converted to run on natural gas. The existing iron pipework didn't leak any more than it used to, but was prone to getting brittle and breaking in bad winters. It was all replaced by polyethylene by the mid-00's. That local network should work fine with hydrogen, although the bigger stuff will need to be changed or lined as ellendunne says. Modern appliances, especially condensing combi boilers, are a lot more sophisticated than their 1970s equivalent, and it may be problematic to change them from methane burning, but as a nation we have changed completely once in my lifetime, so I am sure it can be done again.

I read this article (https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/sizewell-c/news-views/low-carbon-hydrogen-produced-nuclear-plant) about how EDF proposes to produce hydrogen by electrolysis during quiet times at nuclear plants, something that would rid us of the CO2 produced by the current industrial process of knocking the carbon atoms off methane molecules. That could give us a theoretically limitless supply of hydrogen with none of the dreaded carbon, and just some highly radioactive waste to get rid of. Win some, lose some.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: broadgage on March 01, 2020, 05:25:10 pm
When natural gas replaced town gas there was an increase in gas leaks and explosions.
This was not because the new fuel was inherently any more dangerous, but because natural gas was very dry unlike town gas which contained a lot of water vapor.
Many joints in iron or steel gas pipe were made with hemp or similar natural materials, mixed with jointing compound.
Any minute and utterly insignificant leakage kept the jointing material damp.

When dryer natural gas came into use, this initially minute leakage dried out the jointing material and the leak got worse. Sometimes with fatal results.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on March 01, 2020, 07:07:30 pm
I read this article (https://www.edfenergy.com/energy/nuclear-new-build-projects/sizewell-c/news-views/low-carbon-hydrogen-produced-nuclear-plant) about how EDF proposes to produce hydrogen by electrolysis during quiet times at nuclear plants, something that would rid us of the CO2 produced by the current industrial process of knocking the carbon atoms off methane molecules. That could give us a theoretically limitless supply of hydrogen with none of the dreaded carbon, and just some highly radioactive waste to get rid of. Win some, lose some.

Yes it is feasible, it is whether the economics stack up.  Electricity is currently about 5 or 6 times more expensive per KWh than natural gas (to the consumer).  Assuming some loss of efficiency in converting that energy to hydrogen, then I would expect hydrogen to me significantly more expensive that natural gas. 


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 01, 2020, 08:15:58 pm
Yes it is feasible, it is whether the economics stack up.  Electricity is currently about 5 or 6 times more expensive per KWh than natural gas (to the consumer).  Assuming some loss of efficiency in converting that energy to hydrogen, then I would expect hydrogen to me significantly more expensive that natural gas. 

This is where things will get tasty. My smart meter tells me that on my new tariff (started on the anniversary of the previous one) energy by gas costs me 2.56p per kWh. Electricity is 14.752 p/kWh, and the daily standing charge is higher too. I have an induction hob rather than gas, but heating and hot water come via the cheaper method. I should think running a bus by electricity will not be a free fuel option, but neither will hydrogen.

Which serves to remind me to send in a reading for the solar panel I forget all about.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: mjones on March 01, 2020, 09:03:52 pm
This report from the Committee on Climate Change  has a lot of useful information about hydrogen in transport. But they do highlight the problems with the efficiency of production. 

https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/hydrogen-in-a-low-carbon-economy/



Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: grahame on March 01, 2020, 09:32:37 pm
This is where things will get tasty. My smart meter tells me that on my new tariff (started on the anniversary of the previous one) energy by gas costs me 2.56p per kWh. Electricity is 14.752 p/kWh, and the daily standing charge is higher too.

Various sources suggest that a gas fired power station is around 60% efficient - so if I buy 2 x kWh of gas at a cost of 5.12p, I should be able to generate electricity I can sell for 14.752p?   Hardly green, but sounds like a nice little money earner.  Can it be scaled down for domestic use??


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 02, 2020, 12:37:50 am

Various sources suggest that a gas fired power station is around 60% efficient - so if I buy 2 x kWh of gas at a cost of 5.12p, I should be able to generate electricity I can sell for 14.752p?   Hardly green, but sounds like a nice little money earner.  Can it be scaled down for domestic use??

In a nutshell, that's the business model behind the CCGT industry. Electricity generated by gas causes a loss of energy, but adds value by making it available where it is needed. A factor of six seems a big markup, but there is much that couldn't be driven directly by gas.

I don't think the power companies make more from electricity than gas per kWh delivered, as they buy both wholesale and sell it on. Jeremiah Colman reckoned that he made his fortune from the mustard that was left on the plate rather than from what was eaten. The modern parallel is the money made from people who don't change tariff or supplier and pay the standard rate, be it for gas or electric.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: ellendune on March 02, 2020, 08:27:41 am

Various sources suggest that a gas fired power station is around 60% efficient - so if I buy 2 x kWh of gas at a cost of 5.12p, I should be able to generate electricity I can sell for 14.752p?   Hardly green, but sounds like a nice little money earner.  Can it be scaled down for domestic use??

In a nutshell, that's the business model behind the CCGT industry. Electricity generated by gas causes a loss of energy, but adds value by making it available where it is needed. A factor of six seems a big markup, but there is much that couldn't be driven directly by gas.

I don't think the power companies make more from electricity than gas per kWh delivered, as they buy both wholesale and sell it on. Jeremiah Colman reckoned that he made his fortune from the mustard that was left on the plate rather than from what was eaten. The modern parallel is the money made from people who don't change tariff or supplier and pay the standard rate, be it for gas or electric.

A manufacturer of hydrogen would also have to include costs of the gas transmission and distribution as well as paying off the capital costs of the manufacturing plant. 


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 02, 2020, 01:03:29 pm
There are many possible solutions to the transport side of things, the trolleybus one of them. Her Majesty's adoring government has to take more of a lead than it does at present, though, because the current way of doing things is wasteful. Bristol, Leeds and others spent years of time and shed loads of money bidding for a share of a finite pot of cash against others, and knowing that someone wasn't going to get what they wanted, and ended up with ponced-up buses that have hardly been run in before the government announced that it wants to have all electric buses. Buses are further complicated by being privately owned, so not easily replaceable without big private investment as well as infrastructure paid for by public funds that is sufficiently attractive to the private sector to get the money back from access charges. MetroBust in Bristol has shown that that isn't easy with ordinary buses, as the operators can choose to use different routes.

Throwing £500 million or £1 billion in a pot and inviting every transport authority in the land to bid for a share is slow and wasteful. Better for the government to start the process properly by saying "We like what we see in Manchester / Nottingham / Mulhouse / Shanghai. We think trams would work for medium to large citieswith potential routes, while trolleybus may fit large towns better. We have a preferred specification to take advantage of economies of scale - who wants to be first?" Finance could be on the HS2 model (or Manchester Metrolink for that matter) - government brokers the loan at preferred rates, agrees how much the local authority has to pay back over how long, then the system gets built and any profit can be used to expand. Every system is future proofed - bus-only and trolleybus routes built so they can be converted to rail, all tram lines ready for tram-train etc - Simples. Probably not as simples as I make it out to be.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: broadgage on March 02, 2020, 01:30:25 pm
This is where things will get tasty. My smart meter tells me that on my new tariff (started on the anniversary of the previous one) energy by gas costs me 2.56p per kWh. Electricity is 14.752 p/kWh, and the daily standing charge is higher too.

Various sources suggest that a gas fired power station is around 60% efficient - so if I buy 2 x kWh of gas at a cost of 5.12p, I should be able to generate electricity I can sell for 14.752p?   Hardly green, but sounds like a nice little money earner.  Can it be scaled down for domestic use??

Very few, if indeed any gas fired power stations achieve 60% efficiency, 50% is very good, and 40% more likely under real world conditions of part load operation and allowing for start up losses when not continually required.
Domestic sized generators that burn natural gas are available, but are significantly less efficient than large power stations.
It is most unlikely that the electricity supply industry would buy your power at full retail price.

The idea is only worthwhile if there is a significant demand for heat, that can be supplied almost for free from the engine cooling system.
Hospitals, hotels, and industrial laundries use a vast amount of hot water, and some DO generate electricity from natural gas, or from oil. The process is known as CHP or combined heat and power, and is only worthwhile if there is a large and paying demand for the heat.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on March 02, 2020, 02:28:22 pm
There are many possible solutions to the transport side of things, the trolleybus one of them. Her Majesty's adoring government has to take more of a lead than it does at present, though, because the current way of doing things is wasteful. Bristol, Leeds and others spent years of time and shed loads of money bidding for a share of a finite pot of cash against others, and knowing that someone wasn't going to get what they wanted, and ended up with ponced-up buses that have hardly been run in before the government announced that it wants to have all electric buses. Buses are further complicated by being privately owned, so not easily replaceable without big private investment as well as infrastructure paid for by public funds that is sufficiently attractive to the private sector to get the money back from access charges. MetroBust in Bristol has shown that that isn't easy with ordinary buses, as the operators can choose to use different routes.

Throwing £500 million or £1 billion in a pot and inviting every transport authority in the land to bid for a share is slow and wasteful. Better for the government to start the process properly by saying "We like what we see in Manchester / Nottingham / Mulhouse / Shanghai. We think trams would work for medium to large citieswith potential routes, while trolleybus may fit large towns better. We have a preferred specification to take advantage of economies of scale - who wants to be first?" Finance could be on the HS2 model (or Manchester Metrolink for that matter) - government brokers the loan at preferred rates, agrees how much the local authority has to pay back over how long, then the system gets built and any profit can be used to expand. Every system is future proofed - bus-only and trolleybus routes built so they can be converted to rail, all tram lines ready for tram-train etc - Simples. Probably not as simples as I make it out to be.

  Small changes in transport legislation can put quite a lot right, cross route subsidising for example could mean the survival of lesser used rural routes without direct council subsidy. If any infrastructure is built, trolley overhead, tramlines, etc. then it could be public from the beginning, the local council controlling it, meanwhile private companies can operate the routes. It would be good having a solid network of something that is public controlled much like any metro system but on a level that fits the urban area, all of which can be safeguarded and stop operators, transport bodies etc. selecting the short term option. After all, London's tube network never made money for a long time but there was never  thought of closing it I don't think, and now it's full. 
  Many trolleybus systems in the U.K could have been mothballed, left ready for use/updating for the future (and we would all be quite pleased with ourselves now if we did), this occurred an a couple of Italian cities. I believe Bradford left their traction poles up for some time after abandonment just in case, and also had a trolleybus driver on staff to teach people should it have arisen. There was a plan to resurrect them for an interurban system with Leeds in 1987 as well as system revivals in Rotherham and Doncaster.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 02, 2020, 02:49:40 pm
  Small changes in transport legislation can put quite a lot right, cross route subsidising for example could mean the survival of lesser used rural routes without direct council subsidy. If any infrastructure is built, trolley overhead, tramlines, etc. then it could be public from the beginning, the local council controlling it, meanwhile private companies can operate the routes. It would be good having a solid network of something that is public controlled much like any metro system but on a level that fits the urban area, all of which can be safeguarded and stop operators, transport bodies etc. selecting the short term option. After all, London's tube network never made money for a long time but there was never  thought of closing it I don't think, and now it's full. 
  Many trolleybus systems in the U.K could have been mothballed, left ready for use/updating for the future (and we would all be quite pleased with ourselves now if we did), this occurred an a couple of Italian cities. I believe Bradford left their traction poles up for some time after abandonment just in case, and also had a trolleybus driver on staff to teach people should it have arisen. There was a plan to resurrect them for an interurban system with Leeds in 1987 as well as system revivals in Rotherham and Doncaster.

I was working on the situation as it is, rather than as it could be. Widespread launching of systems to compete with private operators wouldn't go down well with our current government, and especially not with the current transport operators. That would cause issues far beyond fixing with a few tweaks to the legislation, and I think it better to work with the operators. Another government can nationalise it all if it so chooses.

Blackpool transport are about to reuse the OHLE posts in Talbot Square that fell from service in 1932, when what was then thought to have been the last tram along Talbot Road left the stop. They were never taken down.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Reading General on March 02, 2020, 03:00:10 pm

Blackpool transport are about to reuse the OHLE posts in Talbot Square that fell from service in 1932, when what was then thought to have been the last tram along Talbot Road left the stop. They were never taken down.

Interesting. Reading still has two locations where the traction poles remain, Kentwood Hill and Northumberland Avenue. The Northumberland Avenue ones were only traction poles for 5 years, they have been lampposts for just over 52 years.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 02, 2020, 04:14:13 pm

The idea is only worthwhile if there is a significant demand for heat, that can be supplied almost for free from the engine cooling system.
Hospitals, hotels, and industrial laundries use a vast amount of hot water, and some DO generate electricity from natural gas, or from oil. The process is known as CHP or combined heat and power, and is only worthwhile if there is a large and paying demand for the heat.

Bristol is embarking on a local heat grid, with any new developments expected to connect to it to satisfy local planning requirements. The aspiration is to use waste heat from elsewhere, but there is bound to be a thumping great big gas boiler in there to begin with.

Iceland has a surfeit of hot water, free at source. Even the pavements are heated to keep them free of ice. Bristol doesn't have a volcano.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: Oxonhutch on March 02, 2020, 05:39:19 pm
Iceland has a surfeit of hot water, free at source. Even the pavements are heated to keep them free of ice. Bristol doesn't have a volcano.

And it has - or at least had in 1980 - the distinctive disadvantage of making the whole place, especially the house and bathroom, stink of rotten eggs. It was primary hydrothermal water with a fair amount of volcanically derived H2S. After my first shower, I was not convinced I was clean! :)


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: johnneyw on March 02, 2020, 06:52:17 pm

Blackpool transport are about to reuse the OHLE posts in Talbot Square that fell from service in 1932, when what was then thought to have been the last tram along Talbot Road left the stop. They were never taken down.

Was this more down to foresight or oversight?


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 02, 2020, 09:09:16 pm

Blackpool transport are about to reuse the OHLE posts in Talbot Square that fell from service in 1932, when what was then thought to have been the last tram along Talbot Road left the stop. They were never taken down.

Was this more down to foresight or oversight?

I think they were useful for a lot of things, such as stringing up the lights around Talbot Square in the days when the illuminations were switched on by somebody famous, on the town hall balcony, rather than by a "celebrity" in front of thousands of drunks in the Pleasure Beach. So they were painted regularly to ward off the effects of passing dogs (got that right) and anyone caught short after leaving Yates's Wine Lodge before it burnt down.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: stuving on March 16, 2020, 03:40:31 pm
How big a factor this is for Li-ion I'm not sure. In all the talk recently about fast chargers for cars for use en route, I've never heard anyone say how much they shorten your battery's life - but they do, don't they? There are a lot of alternatives to Li-ion being worked on, none of which has come good yet ... but I guess one should sooner or later.

This question may be more relevant to cars, though it arose for buses. I've found a report about what fast charging does to electric car batteries (Li-ion, obviously) - from E&T (https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2020/03/electric-vehicle-fast-chargers-shown-to-damage-internal-batteries/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_campaign=New%20EandT%20News%20-%20Automation%20FINAL%20-%20MEMBER&utm_medium=Newsletters%20-%20E%26T%20News&utm_content=E%26T%20News%20-%20Members&utm_term=842960):
Quote
Electric vehicle fast chargers shown to damage internal batteries
By E&T editorial staff                                Published Friday, March 13, 2020

Electric car batteries could be damaged from commercial fast-charging stations which subject them to high temperatures and high resistance, potentially causing them to crack, leak and lose storage capacity.

Engineers at the University of California, Riverside are developing a method to remedy the problem by charging at lower temperatures, which has shown to lower the risk of catastrophic damage and loss of storage capacity.

The researchers charged one set of discharged Panasonic NCR 18650B cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, such as those found in Tesla cars, using the same industry fast-charging method as the fast chargers typically found along US freeways.

They also charged a set of batteries using a new fast-charging algorithm based on the battery’s internal resistance, which interferes with the flow of electrons.The internal resistance of a battery fluctuates according to temperature, charge state, battery age, and other factors. High internal resistance can cause problems during charging.

The new charging method uses an adaptive system that learns from the battery by checking its internal resistance during charging. It rests when internal resistance kicks in to eliminate loss of charge capacity.

For the first 13 charging cycles, the battery storage capacities for both charging techniques remained similar. After that, however, the industry fast-charging technique caused capacity to fade much faster: after 40 charging cycles, the batteries retained only 60 per cent of their storage capacity.

Batteries charged using the internal resistance charging method retained more than 80 per cent capacity after the 40th cycle.

At 80 per cent capacity, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have reached the end of their useful life for most purposes. Batteries charged using the industry fast-charging method reached this point after 25 charging cycles, while internal resistance method batteries were good for 36 cycles.

That looks expensive. But is it? What a battery costs is a fast-changing number; I gather it's down close to $5000 now for small ones. How much it's worth for reuse at the end point, and even what that end point is, are subject to widely varying opinions, but I doubt it's worth more than half its cost.

So if 40 fast charges removes a minimum of 50% of £6,000, that's £75 each time. Comparable with the cost of a full tank of petrol, of course, but it's an extra. Plus if fast charging is seen as the answer to decarbonising the archetypal rep, needing to recharge en route more than once a week, or for buses during the day every day, that's s huge number of batteries to replace. The market for reusing that many might not be there. And even their new improved charging protocol does seem to shorten life substantially, although less.

PS did you spot " internal resistance, which interferes with the flow of electrons"? Wow, fancy that! But it must be true, if that's the IET house mag.


Title: Re: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?
Post by: TonyK on March 16, 2020, 03:52:40 pm

PS did you spot " internal resistance, which interferes with the flow of electrons"? Wow, fancy that! But it must be true, if that's the IET house mag.

I did, but I also noticed the ambiguity. Is it the internal resistance that is said to interfere with the flow, or the new all-singing fast-charging algorithm?



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