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New Routemaster to meet specific environmental targets

I recently contacted TfL to see what progress was being made since the 'A New Bus for London' competition was run. Here's what they had to say:

"Regarding the competition, the next steps for Transport for London (TfL) are to develop a full vehicle specification incorporating the best design ideas, and take these forward to procurement.The final design has yet to be specified by TfL and drawn up by a manufacturer although we expect the specifications to set specific targets for a range of environmental and performance features.

We do not know yet what type of engine will be used although the new bus would probably incorporate hybrid technology as a minimum. Because of the value of the contract to design, develop, trial and deliver a prototype, a notice will need to be placed in the Official Journal of the European Union so that all interested parties including companies from the UK, and their respective supply chains, can express interest and pre-qualify for the tendering process.

In a separate initiative, TfL will be introducing fuel-cell hydrogen buses to the fleet from the end of this year (2009) along with the necessary refuelling infrastructure to operate these on a high-profile London route following a similar procurement process. A contract was placed with Air Products to supply the refuelling infrastructure following a European-wide tendering process and ISE won the contract to supply the hydrogen buses.

The hydrogen we are using will be produced by reforming natural gas. Whilst the process has emissions associated with it, Air Products (the hydrogen supplier) and TfL are committed to evaluating and putting in place measures that minimise these emissions. This is an activity that is ongoing during the life of the project, as further advancements in abatement technology become available.

Taking into account the method of hydrogen production we are using, it is still expected that we will make significant savings in well-to-wheel Co2 emissions. In fact the fuel cell buses will still produce 50% less Co2 than a diesel bus. In the future, TfL and Air Products are committed to encouraging the development of greener sources of hydrogen.

TfL is also a member of the Hydrogen Bus Alliance which brings together other world cities who recognise the potential of hydrogen transport. All the members (including Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam and British Colombia in Canada) have committed to purchase at least five hydrogen buses between 2008-2012. The bus alliance shows that there is a significant market for hydrogen technology in the public transport sector. The sharing of hydrogen knowledge amongst the cities will help the industry to advance (in terms of refuelling infrastructure as well as vehicle production) enable the costs to be driven down over the foreseeable future. So, TfL, remains at the forefront of developing the potential of hydrogen as a future power source."