Electroliners enter service in Leicester

Two 11.6m Wrightbus GB Kite Electroliners entered service on First Leicester’s service 17 on 22 May, marking the start of the company’s programme to electrify all its operations in the city. Operation of a further seven on service 21 is imminent and the full fleet is planned to encompass 68 single-deck and 18 double-deck vehicles. Phase one of the conversion of the company’s Abbey Lane depot is complete and this week will see the installation of the third of the four overhead gantries carrying reel chargers that will form phase two.

Leicester’s Mayor was amongst city dignitaries sampling the vehicles on their first day operating service 17, a one-way circular around Leicester’s densely populated inner eastern suburbs. A First Bus spokesman reported really positive feedback on the vehicles from both driving staff and customers with quietness and comfort emphasized.

The Wrightbus GB Kite Electroliner’s drive train features a 280kW Voith motor, ZF axles (RL82EC front, AV133 rear) and 340kWh of Forsee Power installed battery capacity, rechargeable at 150kW through CCS2.0 compliant plug-in sockets. A range of up to 150 miles is expected from a single charge which should take around 2.5hours.

The vehicles’ introduction is part of the ambitious Leicester Enhanced Bus Partnership Scheme involving six operators which aims to make the whole of Leicester’s bus network electric by 2030, delivering services under the ‘Leicester Buses’ umbrella brand. Led and managed by Leicester City Council, it has already delivered a multi operator best-fare tap-on tap-off ticketing scheme, improved co-ordination on major corridors and is committed to installing new street infrastructure alongside enforcing bus lanes in parallel with the operators’ roll out of electric vehicles. Key city supported services including those to three park and ride sites have already been electrified and an electric midibus city centre ‘Hop!’ service launched in April. 

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