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Friday, 10 December 2010

New Hydrogen

Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse performs
the official fuelling ceremony on WSH62991

Is it so many years since we first embarked on the Europe-wide trial of Hydrogen Fuel Cell buses using specially-built Citaros from Mercedes Benz? These vehicles made their debut on route 25 before moving to the RV1. They were so successful that the two year trial lasted three.

Today at our Lea Interchange depot on the edge of the Olympic Park Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse launched the new generation of hydrogen vehicles.

Two vehicles were available for use and after the launch gave all of the assembled guests a short trip in which, as is the case with this technology, there were absolutely no tail pipe emissions. The white cloud which could be seen on the cold day was nothing more than water vapour.

There are eight of the vehicles in preparation and they will shortly enter service on route RV1 – an ideal central London single-deck route which travels through some of London’s most polluted areas. This trial will allow the entire route to be operated by hydrogen fuel cell buses unlike the previous occasion when usually two were in service.

The launch was something of a relief – one of the key manufacturers, ISE, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in USA during the time the vehicles were being built and this has caused a slight delay in the vehicles being completed.

Unlike the previous operation the hydrogen fuelling is not at a remote site but actually inside our Lea Interchange depot. The vehicles can be fuelled faster and they will easily operate for a full day in service, unlike before when we were limited to about eight hours.

Inside the buses use our traditional purple handrails but the seats are in a special red moquette each declaring the word 'Hydrogen bus'.

BBC and other television news covered the story and Kit Malthouse and representatives of all the main partners – Ballard, Air Products and ISE, as well as ourselves and TfL – enjoyed a ride on one of the vehicles around the Olympic site to Stratford.

We can expect the first vehicles to enter service next weekend and then progressively as further vehicles are delivered.

The offside rear of WSH62991 on the fuelling island
Kit Malthouse and TfL"s David Brown welcome the guests
in front of WSH62992 which was in the new purpose-built
hydrogen workshop


  1. It's impressive to see Hydrogen Buses back in London. I remember the Citaro's on Route 25 very well - Steamboat Willie's I think someone nicknamed them!

    Do you think that this could pave the way for more Hydrogen Buses in London and across London - not just high profile "Tourist" routes as the RV1 has been described?

  2. Managed to go on this by chance today in a very congested central London.

    It was a nice machine when it got a chance to be put through its paces. Interior was standard Wrights/FirstGroup stuff, but with LED ceiling lights and the red seats previously mentioned (which don't really go with the normal Barbie aqua poles).

    And the noises it makes, they have to be heard to be believed. Whining, whooping and clanking like you've never heard before. I certainly don't remember the fuel-cell Mercedes Citaros doing that. :D