The 20 new buses, the first of their kind to be launched in England, will produce no pollution from their exhausts and join more than 500 electric buses in the core fleet which are already zero-emission. The new hydrogen fuel cell double decker buses are first being introduced on route 7 between East Acton and Oxford Circus run by operator Metroline.
It is not the first use of hydrogen-powered buses in London; Tower Transit operated a fleet of single-deckers out of a depot near the Olympic park in east London.
The double-deckers were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, helping to create new jobs, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham. The hydrogen for the buses is currently being produced at Air Liquide’s plant in Runcorn, harnessing waste hydrogen as a by-product from an industrial chlor-alkali plant. Oxford-based Ryze Hydrogen is responsible for transporting the fuel to the fuelling station. From 2023, the hydrogen will be even greener as it will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore windfarm.
A new fuelling station completed by Danish engineering firm Nel Hydrogen will top up each hydrogen fuel cell bus just once per day in as little as five minutes.
In addition to around £6 million of funding from TfL, more than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies - by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission – as well as £1 million from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles.
TfL has paved the way for cheaper hydrogen buses across the rest of the UK, having led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE), to buy in bulk with other UK authorities. In total, the JIVE project seeks to deploy 139 new zero-emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries and has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We have made real progress in London to clean up our air, but we still have a long way to go because toxic air pollution in our city is still leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and is stunting the growth of children’s lungs. Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air, but is supporting jobs and local economics across the UK. This is a great demonstration of how tackling air pollution and the climate crisis and boosting economic growth is about regions working together, investing in the very latest technology.”
Sean O’Shea, CEO at Metroline said: “Hydrogen is an extremely promising renewable fuel for public transport vehicles and we are looking forward to proving its application on London’s roads. The hydrogen buses are an exciting new addition to our fleet, and highlight Metroline’s continued dedication to making London’s streets greener. Our engineering teams have been hard at work preparing the buses for service and we are proud to be operating the first hydrogen powered double-deck buses in London in the hope that it will further showcase the application of sustainable vehicles in the capital.”