Aberdeen will shortly become the second city in the UK to operate zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses, when 10 Van Hool A330 tri-axles enter service later this month. They will be operated by First and Stagecoach.
Entry into service within the next few weeks of 10 completely zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell-powered Van Hool A330s places the bus industry at the forefront of what Aberdeen City Council (ACC) hopes will become a commercially-viable ‘hydrogen economy’ in the UK’s oil capital.
In yet another example of the bus sector showing the way in transport innovation and partnership, project leader ACC says the Van Hools will also begin the area’s transformation into “a world leader for low carbon technology.”
The 13.2m A330s, built in Belgium and able to carry up to 70 passengers, are part of the multi-stakeholder Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project (AHBP) and will be the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered buses now that 20 operated in Whistler, Canada have been removed from service.
As a large-scale, three-year demonstration, AHBP is part of the H2 Aberdeen initiative, which provides the opportunity to create a new industry and greater choice in energy production.
The £20m project includes construction of a hydrogen production plant and refuelling station.
Owned by ACC, the Van Hools will be operated by First Aberdeen (four) and Stagecoach Bluebird (six).
The uneven split is understood to be a result of the Aberdeen demonstration having originally consisted of six buses funded by the HyTransit project; four additional buses were added after another European city’s decision to pull out of the similar but separate HyVloCity scheme.
One of each operator’s was present at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre last Thursday (26 February), when it was announced that their long-awaited entry into service is at last imminent. The routes they are to work were also confirmed.
First’s will be used alongside Volvo B10BLEs on high-profile service X40, which serves the Bridge of Don and Kingswells park-and-ride sites, while Stagecoach’s will be employed among Alexander Dennis Enviro300s on the high-frequency X17 between Aberdeen and Elrick, west of the city.
“This announcement is a clear commitment by First and Stagecoach to bring these buses into service in the very near future, once they have completed driver training and the hydrogen refuelling station is fully commissioned,” says ACC Leader Councillor Jenny Laing.