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HESS: 248 zero-emission buses for Lyon and Geneva – and another 241 as options

Swiss bus manufacturer HESS has won two international tenders in Lyon and Geneva to electrify their respective fleets. The company will supply a total of 127 battery-powered articulated trolleybuses to France and a further 121 electric articulated and double-articulated buses to Lake Geneva over the next four years. The contracts also include the supply of charging infrastructure and options for up to 241 more vehicles by 2030. The new vehicles will help to significantly expand the electric bus fleets in both major cities.

The long-standing positive development of HESS’ order backlog leads to further expansion of capacities in Bellach, Solothurn, as well as in the new plant in Portugal. The number of employees increases to approximately 800 across the group. In Bellach alone, about 40 additional jobs are created, especially in the areas of diagnostics, mechanics, automation and software development. In addition, structural measures for the expansion and optimisation of production will be implemented in the coming months.

In Lyon, the administration and politicians have agreed to an investment package that not only includes the purchase of a modern trolleybus fleet with powerful batteries, but also enables the use of these vehicles on routes previously served by diesel buses. This will massively reduce both CO2 emissions and noise. The overhead network will be extended, to, but longer stretches of the new lines will be operated off-wire. On these sections, the trolleybuses will run on battery power. The new vehicles will complement the fleet of 34 vehicles of the same type that has already been in service since February 2021. The HESS buses already in use are on the C13 line. This connects the 8th district of Lyon (Grange Blanche) with Caluire-et-Cuire (Montessuy) and is used by over 27,000 passengers daily. From spring 2024, line C13 will be operated entirely with the new HESS articulated buses, which can cover up to 40 percent of the route without overhead wires in battery mode. Line C11 will follow in September. The expansion of the trolleybus system is part of a comprehensive conversion programme with the aim to abandon all diesel buses by 2026.

34 articulated battery trolleybuses had already been delivered by HESS to Lyon before | © Sytral

In Geneva, the public transport operator TPG (Transports Publics Genevois) will have a fully electric bus fleet by 2030. As a system provider, HESS will supply a turnkey system consisting of vehicles and charging infrastructure. For this, Hitachi Energy (until 2020 Hitachi ABB Power Grids) will contribute the necessary infrastructure as a subcontractor of HESS. The first new e-buses from HESS are scheduled to run on the line from 2025. The vehicles will recharge themselves via fast-charging stations at the terminal stops and at selected stops. The fast-charging technology (previously known as the TOSA system) enables charging within seconds and minimises vehicle downtime. 67 of the vehicles will be articulated, while 54 will be double-articulated. The well-known lighTram® model will be delivered.