Established by operators Metroline and Stagecoach, the engineering group will set out to share best practices, review the efficacy of the vehicles and improve communications between operators.
Metroline operated the world’s first electric double-deck bus in 2016, and has since gone on to launch two of London’s first all-electric double deck routes, providing the operator with uniquely high levels of experience. As more bus operators from around the UK move to grow their fleets of electric vehicles, the need for a centralised engineering forum for communication between operators has become apparent.
This forum will enable the engineering teams of Metroline and Stagecoach to share their expertise and experiences with other operators, as well as provide a platform for the companies to share their feedback on the vehicles and manufacturers themselves.
Commenting on the move, Ian Foster, group engineering director for Metroline/ComfortDelGro UK said: “It has very quickly become evident that the challenges of operating zero emission vehicles in service has created many more issues both operationally and from and an engineering/design perspective than we were led to believe. Operators need to feel confident that the modelling being carried out by manufacturers is both accurate and ‘real life.’ This working group is set up to share the positives and highlight the difficulties in rolling out these new technologies in both vehicle design and operation, the pitfalls of dealing with power suppliers, and best practice in maintenance and training.
“We intend to create a database of warranty and campaign works required on all types of vehicles and to provide a sounding board for sensible discussions, advice and to help drive design towards easy maintainability. In addition, we hope to highlight the variety of ways that power can be brought into garages, and the potential to mix different technologies for providing that power, as we have found that one size does not fit all, due to a wide variety of reasons. The UK has set itself on a path of rapid ‘greening ‘ of transport systems and this group will be able to provide vital information in the areas where difficulties will arise and also the limitations on what is available to the bus market at this time.”
Through working together in this way, both Metroline and Stagecoach seek to foster a closer working relationship with other electric vehicle operator engineering groups across the country, and help to deliver accurate feedback to manufacturers to help to improve the buses and infrastructure equipment.