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Author Topic: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?  (Read 1139 times)
stuving
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« Reply #15 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.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2020, 11:25:45 pm by stuving » Logged
TonyK
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« Reply #16 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.
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ellendune
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« Reply #17 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
Quote
There is currently no accepted theoretical model that would allow cold fusion to occur.
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mjones
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« Reply #18 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
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2020, 10:21:11 am »

This cropped up elsewhere.  Open top electric trams......... Roll Eyes Tongue Grin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-vzquULeQ4
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grahame
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« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2020, 10:30:12 am »

This cropped up elsewhere.  Open top electric trams......... Roll Eyes Tongue Grin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-vzquULeQ4

Still do on the Seaton Tramway ...
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Reading General
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« Reply #21 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.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2020, 01:32:46 pm »

Battery buses are definitely available and running in a variety of cities, from Wellington to Warsaw via Bristol.
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Reading General
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« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2020, 01:56:59 pm »

I meant specifically Wellington's battery buses. They were/are waiting for them to be built.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2020, 02:51:40 pm »

Oh, fair enough. How many more are they waiting for, do you know?
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« Reply #25 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?
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Reading General
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« Reply #26 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.  Cheesy

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.
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Reading General
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« Reply #27 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.
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Reginald25
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« Reply #28 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.
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mjones
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« Reply #29 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
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