On the way to a low-emission bus fleet, Rheinbahn has taken another step: the first new-generation battery-electric buses subsidised by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are driving through Düsseldorf. Interesting fact: the two “ie Bus” buses are the first Irizar electric buses in the fleet of a German operator. The Spanish manufacturer Irizar has thus successfully entered the German market. Further orders have already been received.
“Clean, low-emission buses make our cities more liveable. That is why the state and federal government are promoting the purchase of new electric buses. I am pleased that more and more companies like Rheinbahn are taking advantage of our offer,” says Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst.
Two electric bus lines
Rheinbahn has ordered ten battery-electric buses from the Spanish manufacturer Irizar via its German contract partner Ferrostaal. After the massive impact of the Corona pandemic, including plant closures at the Spanish manufacturer and travel restrictions, the buses can now be used in Düsseldorf. The first four buses have been approved and will gradually be used on line 726, which connects Volmerswerth with Carlstadt. The other buses are expected to be used on the left bank of the Rhine on line 833 between Oberkassel and Neuss at the beginning of 2021 – once they have been approved and the necessary test runs have been completed.
“With the use of emission-free vehicles such as these state-of-the-art e-buses, we are another step closer to the ambitious goal of climate neutrality for Düsseldorf in 2035. The funding from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia encourages and supports us on our way to driving forward the transport turnaround with modern and intelligent solutions. We will work with vigour in Düsseldorf on the implementation of further innovative projects,” emphasises Lord Mayor Dr. Stephan Keller.
“After all, we already offer e-mobility with our trains,” says Klaus Klar, CEO of Rheinbahn. “We are pleased that with the new e-buses we are creating even more incentives for our passengers to opt for climate-friendly mobility and making Rheinbahn the first choice for mobility in Düsseldorf and the region.”
Michael Richarz, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, adds: “Our goal is to make the Rheinbahn bus fleet as low-emission as possible in the long term. In addition to the modernisation and retrofitting of the bus fleet to the Euro-6 emission standard – currently the cleanest emission standard for diesel buses – which will be almost completed in 2020, the use of electric drives is an important contribution to this! Therefore, we are intensively looking into alternative types of drive in order to further contribute to the climate protection goals of the city of Düsseldorf and to the quality of life in the region.”
State of NRW promotes e-mobility
Rheinbahn is investing around 8.4 million euros in the ten new e-buses and the associated charging and workshop infrastructure. The state of NRW has currently approved a total of 3.5 million euros in funding for this via the Rhine-Ruhr Transport Association (VRR).
“With the promotion of low-emission and zero-emission buses, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and VRR are once again making an important contribution to making energy-efficient drive systems suitable for everyday use and routes and to establishing them in the interconnected area in the long term – our contribution to environmental and air pollution control,” explains Ronald R.F. Lünser, spokesman for the VRR board.
Modern electric drive and a lot of comfort for passengers
The buses are powered entirely by electricity. With a battery capacity of 300 kilowatt hours, the buses have a range of about 150 kilometres. The batteries can hold up to 150 kilowatts, which means that the electric bus can be fully charged in less than three hours. The charging sockets, located on the left and right above the front axle, correspond to the Combined Charging System (CCS), which has established itself as a standard for electric vehicles in both the passenger car and bus sectors. The charging infrastructure for the buses is located at the Rheinbahn depot in Heerdt.
The charging infrastructure at the Heerdt depot was largely set up and installed in November. A twelve-metre long and three-metre wide technical building was constructed for this purpose by the company Schaltbau Refurbishment from Dinslaken. In addition to the charging stations, the building houses a separate transformer, a sub-distribution and a cooling system. The associated charging points with the charging plugs for the e-buses are located in the bus parking hall directly opposite. A pipe route with power cables running through it connects the charging points in the hall with the charging stations in the technical building set up outside. One charging point is provided for each E-bus.
The charging points with the plugs are mounted between the parking lanes of the electric buses on the hall roof with the help of special constructions. The charging cable is electrically lowered via a pull cable and made available for the charging process. The charging plugs are arranged in such a way that there is one for the right-hand lane and one for the left-hand lane in the immediate vicinity. This allows for flexible use, as the electric buses have a charging socket on both sides. To start the charging process with a power of up to 150 kilowatts, there is a button at the tank opening on the bus. This button can also be used to interrupt the charging process. With a maximum charge of 150 kilowatts and a fully discharged battery, the charging process takes about three hours.
At the charging points, the electric buses can be “climatically preconditioned” during the night. This means that from a certain time in the morning, the interior of the vehicles is prepared according to the optimal operating temperature, i.e. – depending on the outside temperature – cooled down or heated up. This ensures that this process consumes less energy on the road and thus ideally enables a range of more than 200 kilometres.
But the modern 12-metre solo buses are not only impressive from the point of view of zero-emission propulsion: inside, they offer 34 seats and 29 standing places as well as two multi-purpose areas for passengers with wheelchairs or prams and a folding ramp for easier boarding and alighting. Leather seats, USB charging sockets and air conditioning provide special passenger comfort.