London to get ‘world’s first’ hydrogen double-decker buses

The ‘world’s first’ hydrogen double-decker buses will be rolled-out on three London bus routes next year.

Transport for London (TfL) has ordered 20 of the buses, which produce no pollution from their exhausts and are powered with a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery pack.

The vehicles will be introduced on routes 245, 7 and N7, with people traveling to Wembley Stadium, or from west London to the West End.

TfL says they are investing £12m in the new buses and the fuelling infrastructure with Northern Ireland firm Wrightbus as the manufacturer, which uses a fuel cell from Ballard to power a Siemens drivetrain.

Over £5m of funding is also being provided by the EU and £1m from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles.

The market for hydrogen buses in the UK is still in its early stages, but TfL says they are leading UK procurement by joining the ‘Joint Initiative for hydrogen Vehicles across Europe’ (JIVE) project which aims to bring down the cost of the vehicles by buying in bulk with other authorities.

In 2018, Wrightbus ran in-service trials of the buses in Aberdeen, which currently runs a fleet of single-deck fuel cell buses, operated by First and Stagecoach. Aberdeen is currently the only other UK city to run fuel cell buses.

Photo credit – Wrightbus

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: ‘We all have a role to play in cleaning up London’s toxic air and I’ve always said that TfL should lead from the front.

‘Following the launch of the world-first Ultra Low Emission Zone last month I’m delighted that TfL has today signed a contract to bring 20 state-of-the-art, zero-emission hydrogen buses to London’s streets.

‘We are investing a record £85m in cleaning up our bus fleet, and I am proud that London now has the largest zero-emission bus fleet in Europe.’

In related news, Arcola Energy recently announced they will build a facility to develop hydrogen and fuel cell technology for buses near Liverpool.

The manufacturing area of the new site will be used to produce and install hydrogen fuel systems into a fleet of double-decker buses for the Liverpool City Region, after the city region was awarded £6.4m for the project by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.