More red buses to go green in London

London's leaders are aiming to further slash emissions of the city's sizeable bus fleet, starting with a trial of ten hydrogen vehicles.

On Tuesday, Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, announced plans to trial five hydrogen fuel cell buses and five buses powered by hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engines.

The fuel cell buses will be effectively zero carbon, while the combustion buses will have much lower emissions than their diesel counterparts.

“Hydrogen is a fuel of the future as it improves air quality and does not produce the harmful emissions which are causing catastrophic climate change,” said Mr Livingstone.

“These ten new hydrogen vehicles will be clean and efficient, providing a smoother, quieter ride for passengers.

“London is now the first city in Europe to commit to a hydrogen bus fleet of this size, which will match traditional diesel buses in terms of performance. This represents a huge step forward from the previous hydrogen trials in the capital and is an important step towards my target of having five per cent of all public sector fleet vehicles powered by hydrogen by 2015.”

The £9.65m contract for the buses has been awarded to American company ISE which has an established track record of delivering hydrogen buses, ISE.

The contract covers specialist maintenance and repairs for the first five years and cost to Londoners has been offset by a grant of £2.6m from central Government.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, said: “This is a very exciting development and a serious step towards the long-term aim of reducing emissions from road transport.”

Mike Weston, operations director for London Buses, added: “The Mayor and Transport for London are committed to tackling climate change through cutting London’s contribution to CO2 and other emissions.

“Hydrogen technology is still being developed and we are paying a premium for these early models. However, we firmly believe this is a worthwhile investment in developing clean, green technology, and we expect costs to reduce over time.”

Mr Livingstone said that as there was currently no mass market for hydrogen buses, each of the vehicles had to be custom built and were therefore considerably more expensive than the equivalent diesel vehicles.

The trial will find out which of the two technologies is best suited to London and once this has been determined, said the Mayor, all new buses coming into the fleet will be hydrogen fuelled.

Sam Bond

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