London to introduce 37 fully electric double-decker buses: A banner demo

London bus operator Tower Transit is introducing 37 fully electric double-decker buses in the UK capital. The company, part of the SeaLink Travel Group, is working with Siemens Smart Infrastructure to install the charging infrastructure. Westbourne Park garage, on the Great Western Road, is the operator’s first depot in London incorporating fully electric routes with power infrastructure, maintenance and charging facilities. Bus routes 23 and C3 operate from the Westbourne Park site.

Zero emissions

The first few Optare Metrodecker zero-emission double-deckers are already in operation with the remaining fleet expected to be in service in the coming months. The conversion of the Westbourne Park depot is part of the capital’s plans to deliver greener and cleaner transport for all Londoners.

The Metrodecker electric vehicles (EVs) deployed by Tower Transit will reportedly save more than 1,800 tons in greenhouse gas emissions well-to-wheel in each year of operation versus a Euro VI bus. “As part of our aim, to tackle London’s air-quality crisis, we are continuing to grow our electric bus fleet, which is already one of the largest in Europe,” said Claire Mann, Transport for London’s (TfL) director of bus operations. She added: “To support this growth, we need the right infrastructure in place. This new charging facility at Westbourne Park is another step in the right direction.

Not only do electric buses reduce emissions but they also provide customers with smoother, quieter journeys and the new double deck Optare buses on routes 23 and C3 will come with the latest safety features and include USB chargers at seats.” Siemens has provided 34 AC and four DC Sicharge units (AC22 and UC200) supplying a total charging power of 2 megawatts at the refitted Westbourne Park garage. The charging infrastructure is sited on the 180-metre elevated bus deck extension that was built over railway lines as part of the Crossrail project in 2017.“As part of our aim, to tackle London’s air-quality crisis, we are continuing to grow our electric bus fleet, which is already one of the largest in Europe”Buses are recharged primarily overnight or during operational breaks via the AC22s.

The high-power UC200 DC charging-units provide fast charging; transferring power three times faster, compared with AC charging technology, so vehicles can be charged during shorter periods of parking time. As well as commissioning the installation, Siemens is providing a preventative maintenance programme and ongoing 24/7 service level support for the infrastructure. When electrifying depots there are a number of challenges to overcome: integrating with existing infrastructure; solving any grid or power demands; and aligning the route and vehicle characteristics to support the most optimum vehicle and infrastructure solution. “Helping Tower Transit deliver its first depot for fully-electric routes, with these iconic double decker buses, is an important milestone for both the operator and London, as progress continues to be made with improving the air quality and lives of people in the capital,” said Matthias Rebellius, managing board member of Siemens and CEO of Smart Infrastructure. He added: “The work at Westbourne Park reinforces Siemens’ growing reputation as one of the world’s leading providers of electrical infrastructure and transport solutions, which are paving the way towards the electrification of the transport sector.” The Optare Metrodecker electric bus is designed and built at Optare’s facility in Sherburn near Leeds. London’s electric bus fleet of more than 380 electric buses is one of the largest in Europe.