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Regionalverkehr Köln: Solaris hydrogen articulated bus and a “K-Bus” Sprinter on test

Solaris Urbino 18 hydrogen demonstration vehicle leaving the Straßerhof stop in Burscheid on 4 April 2023 | © Christian Marquordt

September 2022, the Polish bus manufacturer Solaris – a subsidiary of the Spanish CAF group – presented its first articulated hydrogen fuel cell bus.

After the presentation, the first vehicle of this new design started test operation at Krakow’s municipal public transport operator MPK. And Solaris received its first order for such buses from Germany, namely from Stadtwerke Aschaffenburg. They ordered ten 12-metre Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen buses and two articulated buses of this new type. Delivery of the Aschaffenburg buses is scheduled for 2024, see also: https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/en/oldenburg-aschaffenburg-db-regio-hydrogen-buses-from-solaris-and-caetano/ .

But now a first Solaris Urbino 18 hydrogen entered regular service on German roads. A demonstration vehicle, registered with the Polish registration number “PZ 3 V 801” (PZ for Poznan/Posen), oprated in public service out of the Wermelskirchen depot of Regionalverkehr Köln (RVK) The yard in Wermelskirchen was chosen because RVK has its own hydrogen filling station here.

The car is used on line 260 of the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (VRS), which is operated by RVK. It runs from Remscheid city centre via Wermelskirchen, Burscheid and Leverkusen to Cologne main station (Breslauer Platz). It is served by articulated buses every 30 minutes. From one terminus to the other, it takes pretty much two hours to get there (exactly one hour and 54 minutes), including the turnaround and break times in Remscheid and Cologne, it needs ten courses.

So this is where the new hydrogen articulated bus of the RVK now “swims along”. It is only provisionally signposted with a (larger) sheet of paper showing the route number and route behind the windscreen at the front right of the bus.

Solaris Urbino 18 hydrogen at the Innotrans Berlin 2022 | © Christian Marquordt

Mercedes-Benz / K-Bus Sprinter on Zülpich’s city line 774

In the town of Zülpich – in the district of Euskirchen between Euskirchen and Düren, picturesque and with largely preserved medieval town walls – there is the VRS town bus line 774, which is also operated by RVK. It runs from the station via the town centre and the Schwerfen district to the “Seepark”, where the North Rhine-Westphalian State Garden Show was held a few years ago – and which has been an attractive recreational area in the town ever since. (The lake is a former open-cast lignite mine).

On route 774, the RVK usually uses one of its mini buses with a low-floor section immediately behind the front axle. At the moment, however, a Mercedes Sprinter minibus is in use, whose Austrian official registration number “EU 443 DU” (EU = Eisenstadt Umgebung) shows that it is registered to the Austrian minibus and midibus specialist “K-Bus” in Hornstein in Burgenland.

The Mercedes-Benz / K-Bus Sprinter in Zülpich | © Christian Marquordt
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