FULL GALLERY: Harrogate electrifies

Transdev Blazefield reveals future fleet at stakeholder and public event in town centre

A Yorkshire icon, Harrogate Bus Company’s service 36 between Leeds, Harrogate and Ripon has earned a deserved reputation for finesse and quality way beyond its local area, even being referred to in national TV advertising for a locally based tea brand. In recent years, it has regularly received new vehicles, each delivery adding more customer-centric features. Now the route is to go electric, one of the first interurban services in the UK to take this leap forward. The forerunner of the new fleet was recently unveiled to stakeholders and the public outside the Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate where Transdev Blazefield’s MD, Henri Rohan, spoke to guests from the balcony.

The launch event attracted a lot of interest as can be seen in this image from a higher floor of the hotel, note the opportunity charging rails on the roof

He referred to 80% of the componentry for these new buses being produced in the UK or in Europe and the engagement of Yorkshire-based company OGL Construction to install charging facilities at the Starbeck depot and at Harrogate Bus Station, adding: “This new generation of buses has been three years in the making with a successful application for £7.8 million through ZEBRA, the Government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas fund, by our exceptional partner North Yorkshire Council, supporting our own investment to make this exciting project a reality.”

The launch event also drew attention to Transdev’s plans to complete the electrification of its Harrogate network with new single-deck vehicles.

Alexander Dennis Enviro400EVs

Transdev has ordered 19 of Alexander Dennis’ in-house model with underfloor batteries for Harrogate Bus Company’s 36 service and these will be delivered in anticipation of full electrification of the route in September this year. The Harrogate team has worked closely with AD for over two years to develop an exacting internal specification for the vehicles with 52 seats and two wheelchair spaces. High backed Kiel seats are used throughout, including six single recliners on the offside upstairs, complete with armrests, side tables and cup-holders. All seats have USB access and mobile-phone holders/inductive chargers. A maximum of 16 standees can also be accommodated on the lower deck to remain within GVW requirements despite the weight of the battery packs and high specification bodywork. Camera mirror systems are deployed.

The flooring has been developed by Altro to Transdev’s requirements with the aisles in a wood block effect contrasting strongly with a similar effect in black under the seats. The latter are trimmed in a dedicated moquette woven by Camira from British wool. The contrasting surfaces are one of the features that have drawn positive feedback from disabled users, reflecting the involvement of Disability Access Yorkshire at the design stage. Other areas they highlighted included the additional display screens viewable from the two wheelchair spaces and the glazed staircase which lightens up the area, although contra-vision material ensures that the black and red external appearance is not compromised.

The 11.1m AD Enviro400EV employs NMC batteries from Impact Clean Power Technology to power a 310kW continuously rated Voith Electrical Drive System. In addition to depot plug-in charging, the Transdev vehicles are being equipped with roof mounted opportunity charging rails which will enable them to gather a top-up charge from the pantograph charger units at Harrogate Bus Station on each journey.

Daimler eCitaro

Daimler is currently building 20 Mercedes-Benz eCitaros to support Transdev’s electrification of the rest of the Harrogate Bus Company network, in particularly the intensive 1 group of services which links Harrogate to Starbeck and Knaresborough. These will feature an interior finish in the same materials as the AD double-deckers and the red livery established with the initial Harrogate electrics in 2018. They will have 588kWh battery packs with the design intention to use 420kWh on a daily depot charge basis to maximise battery life, they will not be fitted with opportunity charging facilities. A further 15 eCitaros are part of Transdev’s current electrification plans and will enter service with the Keighley Bus Company on The Shuttle to Bradford in early 2025.

To give a taste of the future single deck fleet, Daimler Buses displayed their new latest specification demonstration vehicle. Mechanically and electrically similar to the vehicles expected by Transdev, it has a more neutral interior in grey shades relieved by bright green seat headrests and grabrails. It proved popular with the visiting public who took the opportunity for their name to be programmed in to the destination screens. The eCitaros are expected to enter service in Harrogate during September and October.

Infrastructure

With all the reveal focus on the vehicles, it would be easy to overlook the infrastructure work that has been undertaken to support their introduction. At Harrogate Bus Station, a fourth pantograph charging pylon has been installed and, together with one of the existing ones that has been raised, will be the primary source of top-up power for the 36’s double-deckers. The remaining two pylons can also be used by double-deckers but with less flexibility in positioning.

At the Harrogate Bus Company depot in Starbeck, partner Zenobe has driven the installation of the required overnight charging facilities for the new fleet and connection of the facility to the electric grid is imminent. In the interim, Zenobe has provided a temporary power supply utilising second-life batteries. A new telematics system will ensure that, inter-alia, the battery status of each vehicle will be continuously visible to the operator.

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