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Author Topic: Electric buses: Why were trolleybuses ever scrapped?  (Read 12329 times)
Reading General
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« Reply #30 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.
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Reading General
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« Reply #31 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.
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onthecushions
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« Reply #32 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
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stuving
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« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2020, 06:20:17 pm »

National Express Group published their annual results yesterday along with the following promise:
Quote
National Express Group sets out zero emission vision

National Express Group today outlines its vision to become the UK (United Kingdom)’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.
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TonyK
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« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2020, 09:06:19 pm »

National Express Group published their annual results yesterday along with the following promise:
Quote
National Express Group sets out zero emission vision

National Express Group today outlines its vision to become the UK (United Kingdom)’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.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #35 on: February 29, 2020, 09:56:20 am »

Quote
An ambition that our UK (United Kingdom) 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.
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TonyK
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« Reply #36 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 (United Kingdom) 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), 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.
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smokey
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« Reply #37 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.  Huh Huh

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  Wink

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Reading General
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« Reply #38 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.
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Reading General
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« Reply #39 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.  Smiley

Bern looks like they do the same. They will both probably share sub-stations though.
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« Reply #40 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.
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« Reply #41 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.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #42 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.
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TonyK
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« Reply #43 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.
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« Reply #44 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.   
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