Saturday, 19 August 2017

Eboracum Electricity Engenders Excitement

Or Maybe Not
There are several ways you can charge up your electric bus or tram. You can plug it in at the roadside as in Paris in the very early 20th Century ...
... or in York in the 21st Century.
This system is often in addition to a slow charge overnight.

Or you can build some posh overhead chargers giving the batteries a boost every trip.
But after 100 years of technological development, there is still the problem of the size and weight of those batteries. The French tram slung them under the body, filling all the space between it and the road.
There was an awful lot of kilos to carry around to power the motors hauling an awful lot of kilos around. Thankfully the technology is better now; but still in need or further development.

Government will put £45m towards establishing a battery research centre in a bid to bring down costs of energy storage and maximise its impact on sectors such as energy and transport.

The department for business, energy & industrial strategy (Beis) announced its plans ahead of a speech on the forthcoming industrial strategy by secretary of state Greg Clark in Birmingham.
That strategy will not emerge until Autumn at the earliest, but the government appears to have some appetite to support emerging energy technologies, as well as more mature technologies.

In Milton Keynes the charging is by contactless induction coils.
Hmm, buses on springs; there's a novelty! Actually the "springs" are meant to represent the magic electricity leaping across from the road to the bottom of the bus.

But last week there was a big shindig in York. It must have been big because it was attended by big First bus boss Giles Fearnley.
Yes, siree, the lads and lasses have been lent a shiny double deck electric bus to play with for a few months.

The press releases gave all the details. This was Optare's version.

A landmark moment has been celebrated in York today (14 August) as it has become the first UK city outside London to trial a new fully electric double decker bus.

Representatives from City of York Council, First York and local bus manufacturer, Optare welcomed the arrival of the first “Metrodecker EV” in York today, which will be trialled on the York Park & Ride network and selected city routes over the next month.

The zero-emission and fully electric bus has the capacity to carry 99 passengers and has a range of nearly 150 miles from one overnight charge. The new vehicle is being trialled in York following the recent announcement that improvements will be made to the city’s already successful Park & Ride scheme. It was promised that new ‘greener’ buses would be introduced to improve fuel emissions citywide, placing York’s Park & Ride as one of the most sustainable and efficient in the country.
For the record, the "ordinary" Metrodecker is quite an impressive motor but the all-electric EV spec makes the demonstrator in York something to consider.

Energy Storage System

Power 200kW

Max Torque 3570Nm

Nm? nM is a nano-Metre. But Nm is a Newton metre. One newton metre is equal to the torque resulting from a force of one newton applied perpendicularly to the end of a moment arm that is one metre long. fbb thinks it measures the vehicles "oomph"!

3 modules assembled in parallel total energy 200kWh

Maintenance free lithium iron magnesium phosphate batteries with built in electronic monitoring of key parameters.

Forecast range approx 105-145 miles (170-230km) on a single charge, dependent on duty cycle and equipment options.

Charging 40kW integrated on-board charger connects to standard commercial three phase supply.

Charge time approx 6 hours from zero to full using on-board charger.

The big question. Is 100 miles enough? Probably not, unless you are slowed by London's cloggy traffic. !0 mph, 10 hours at work - seems a bit tight. Hopefully Optare and First York have done their sums.

And one enthusiast has already come up with a York Park and Ride livery.
Maybe when this bus goes into production, they will invent a more enticing "marque" - EV, Electric Vehicle?

But it is not the first electric double deck in the city.
A newly converted electric bus is on duty in York, in a world-first project to help cut air pollution in the city.

A City Sightseeing open top bus has been converted from its old diesel engine to use new electric technology that will cut 33 tonnes of CO2 pumped into the city centre air each year, along with 535kg of harmful nitrous oxide.

The conversion was backed by a £75,000 grant from a special Department for Transport's clean bus fund after City of York Council's low emissions officer Derek McCreadie persuaded civil servants that the project could be a new technology which could benefit the whole of the UK.

It lay claim to being the first such double deck vehicle in the world. Unless anyone knows differently.

Of course, they had tall buses in new York in 1904!
Lots of space for batteries.

A Personal Note
After four frantic weeks of timetable and cartographical work. the fbbs (including Mrs and No 3 son) are taking a week's holiday in Largs. Today they travel all the way by train (OK, having parked the limo at Axminster station).

No 3 son will be joining them tomorrow after a short flight from Gatport Airwick.

A report on the journey will appear tomorrow.

 Next travel by train  blog - Sunday 20th August 


  1. One problem with mains electricity, alternating current (a.c.) is that you cannot store it in that state.

    To do so you have to convert it to direct current (d.c.)

    The national grid is a.c. And it is more efficient at higher voltages. For domestic use in the U.K and Europe (generally) we reduce it to a nominal 240 volts (it has varied over the years between 200 volts and 250 volts) but for outdoor use including building sites it is reduced further to 110 volts for safety reasons.

    Electric trains use higher a.c. Voltages with the overhead pantograph, whereas in the south east of England we use 600 volts d.c. With the third rail.

    Batteries and accumulators as used in torches and electric vehicles are d.c.

    For further information google d.c. or a.c. - look up websites such as wiki and science based websites that will also be found.

    No doubt our blogger will have an electric journey today.

  2. Andrew Kleissner19 August 2017 at 08:33

    Well, the first part of his journey will certainly be diesel!

    It strikes me that one of the advantages of electric buses must be the high starting torque available. Having done a quick scout around on the web, I see that the quoted torque for both an E400MMC and a Mercedes Citaro is less than a third of what is available here. This should make for good pull-aways at stops.

    I realised this when I read a review of the electric version of my car which, though heavier than the petrol model, apparently shoots away from traffic lights! Both electric and steam vehicles offer maximum torque when starting from rest, however internal combustion engines offer zero power when starting from rest; the power has to be transmitted through a clutch as the engine speed and power increase.