Do any Electric buses run on hilly routes?

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superkev

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Hi. Living in the Pennines I've often wondered how the current electric buses would fare on some of my local routes. As far as I can see they only seem to be deployed on the flatlands of Leeds, York, Manchester etc.
I'd love to see how they faired on the 1000ft Queensbury hump between Halifax and Bradford or the long limb from Halifax to Ainley top.
K
 
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Robertj21a

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In the past, weren't very hilly routes ideal for the electric trolleybuses?
 

NorthOxonian

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The entire route isn't hilly, but the 53/54 in Gateshead has to content with a very nasty bank immediately after crossing the Redheugh Bridge. It's always seemed to handle it well.
 

johncrossley

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Hi. Living in the pennines I've often wondered how the current Electric buses would fare on some of my local routes.
As far as I can see they only seem to be deployed on the flatlands of Leeds, York, Manchester etc.
Love to see how they faired on the 1000ft Queensbury hump between Halifax and Bradford or the long Limb from Halifax to Ainley top.
K

Here's a video showing an electric bus leaving a diesel bus for dead on a steep hill in north London

 

Llandudno

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Electric buses are coming to Snowdonia, what could possibly go wrong...?
 

ac6000cw

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Don't forget that regenerative electric braking will put energy back into the batteries when going downhill, thus extending the range (unlike diesel buses where you burn fuel to climb a hill, then when you descend it all the potential energy you've just accumulated is dissipated as heat in the friction brakes).
 

Surreyman

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I have often wondered about this, sure the acceleration is impressive but even with regenerative braking how long does the battery charge last compared to flatter routes?
If you had a route in a hilly area with a service timetable running from say 6am to 10.30 at night would the charge last?
In London, where (N)night routes run with the allocation drawn from the day routes, you would presumably need a bigger fleet to cover?
 
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A Leedscity Yutong was trialled on the Dalesbus last week, but I'm not sure how well it performed.
 

Roger1973

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Go-Ahead London's TFL route 214 uses electric single deckers, and this page has a video of the southbound journey heading downhill from Highgate.

The vehicle / duty schedules are public domain here (while it's a 24 hour route to the public, contractually the night service is N214 so is separate) but the whole thing seems to be done with 19 buses, all of which are out in the peak hours. Buses run back to Northumberland Park garage during the evening - I am not sure whether this is dictated by vehicle mileage range / need for a quick re-charge (I am not sure what the possibilities are here) or just for driver meal breaks.

It appears that some of those 19 buses also work on to the night service. Obviously the bus that is one particular running number may not be the same running number the next day, and I don't know if the fleet allocation is such that the buses that do the night service one day will be spare the next day.

Double deck routes 43 and 134 are also now electric and go up the hill to Highgate and Muswell Hill. The 43 allocation increased by 2 buses on Monday - Friday when the electric bus contract was let, but it would need a bit of thought to work out if this was just for electric bus requirements.
 

Harpers Tate

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I have often wondered about this, sure the acceleration is impressive but even with regenerative braking how long does the battery charge last compared to flatter routes?
If you had a route in a hilly area with a service timetable running from say 6am to 10.30 at night would the charge last?
In London, where (N)night routes run with the allocation drawn from the day routes, you would presumably need a bigger fleet to cover?
I speak only as an electric car user here: at a guess I think the regen system is around 80% efficient. So if you use 1kWh (extra) going uphill, you'll recover around 800Ah of that one the compensating down. In real life, I drove from Lancaster to Skipton via Settle using very minor back roads and some very steep hills. My car's reported power usage for the total trip was pretty much the same as it would have been at equivalent speeds (so, fairly slow overall in fact) on the flat - around 5 miles/kWh.

As to whether the charge would last on a bus in the circumstances you describe - depends on the battery size of course. But if it would cover {whatever the mileage is} with, say, a 15-20% margin in fairly flat terrain, then it would do so if hilly.
 

johncrossley

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The Dutch province of Limburg is hilly (especially in the south) and the buses there are mostly operated by electric buses even in rural areas.
 

Robertj21a

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Given how many electric buses operate in China, I'm fairly sure that they have some pretty big hills out there.
 

superkev

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All the examples so far have been on fairly short hills. Indeed Muswell hill was the only time I remember at RT using 1st gear to set off.
Real test to me as I said would be the long climb from Elland to Ainley top where Halifax PD2s were boiling by the top and were left standing by Huddersfield trolleybuses.
K
 

DunsBus

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I remember the case of the battery-electric Omnis bought by SPT for the 398 inter-station service in Glasgow during the late-nineties. Apparently, it was realised too late that the steep climb up North Hanover Street would kill their batteries. The Omnis never entered service.
 
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kez19

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I’m maybe wrong to say but thinking with Xplore Dundee 5/9/10 route it goes uphill at Queen Street in Broughty Ferry, Summerfield Avenue in Whitfield to name a few off by hand
 

Bletchleyite

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Electric buses are coming to Snowdonia, what could possibly go wrong...?

Why would anything go wrong? Electric motors have full torque at zero speed, so they are much better on hills than diesel, and using regenerative braking you can recapture energy on the downhills.

In any case, if you're talking about the Conwy Valley "RRB", I don't think there's anything steeper over the Crimea Pass (the only really hilly bit) than the hill up from the station to the shopping centre in MK, and electric buses (on the former route 7) have operated on that.
 

Welshman

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In the past, weren't very hilly routes ideal for the electric trolleybuses?
For trolleybuses, yes.
Hence their use in Northern towns such as Huddersfield and Bradford.
Indeed, the Huddersfield trolleys on their journey to West Vale via Elland used regenerative braking on the famous Ainleys hill down into Elland to supply power for the returning services up the hill.

But battery-powered buses have sadly been found wanting in recent trials in hilly rural areas, eg. Denbighshire in North Wales:-



PS -unfortunately, the article I read and quoted has now appeared behind a paywall, but the gist was the battery buses "ran out of puff" on the hills, and could not be relied upon to cover duties without re-charging, and the schedules being substituted with conventional diesel buses..
 
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johncrossley

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For trolleybuses, yes.
Hence their use in Northern towns such as Huddersfield and Bradford.
Indeed, the Huddersfield trolleys on their journey to West Vale via Elland used regenerative braking on the famous Ainleys hill down into Elland to supply power for the returning services up the hill.

But battery-powered buses have sadly been found wanting in recent trials in hilly rural areas, eg. Denbighshire in North Wales:-



PS -unfortunately, the article I read and quoted has now appeared behind a paywall, but the gist was the battery buses "ran out of puff" on the hills, and could not be relied upon to cover duties without re-charging, and the schedules being substituted with conventional diesel buses..

What's wrong with recharging? Most electric buses in operation around Europe charge at the terminal points.
Harrogate does similar but London buses rely on depot charging only.
 

Bletchleyite

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But battery-powered buses have sadly been found wanting in recent trials in hilly rural areas

To be fair so have inevitably-underpowered diesel buses, crawling up hills at 10mph kicking out stinking fumes and delaying other road users, even cyclists.

Regarding charging that's not a problem with electric buses per-se, it's a problem with doing things on the cheap - the same happened with the MK 7 trial and they had to add a diesel bus into the circuit. You need enough buses and you need enough charging facilities, just like if you don't put enough diesel in a diesel bus it'll be stuck by the end of the day.
 

Aictos

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A few years ago and I don't know if it is still in operation but there was a local bus shuttle between Durham railway station and Durham Cathedral that was battery powered, it was about the size of a Optare Solo I believe so not a large vehicle. I do remember it's up hill to the Cathedral though.
 

Whisky Papa

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What's wrong with recharging? Most electric buses in operation around Europe charge at the terminal points.
Harrogate does similar but London buses rely on depot charging only.
Interesting variation of this in the NE suburbs of Prague, where local transit operator DPP has decided that converting diesel bus route 140 is a priority. From Palmovka, the route climbs a mile-long hill, 285 feet up to Prosek, then continues along fairly flat roads to new housing out at Čakovice,. It was proving to use a lot of diesel and produce a lot of emissions so ideal for conversion, however the drain of climbing the hill appeared to be beyond the forecast capability of normal battery operation. So the bulk of the uphill section was wired, and was running as a trial hourly trolleybus route 58 as far as the metro station at Letňany, about half way along the full 140 route. This appears to be currently suspended (due to Covid I assume). The uphill wiring starts here at Kundratka and finishes short of the top of the hill, possibly because that area is more built-up and there might be objections from residents? There is also a shorter stretch of downhill wiring, which I didn't notice when I was there. Perhaps it would cost little extra to add it, and as it would reduce charging times, worth it overall?

As the round trip on the 58 was under 30 minutes, the trolleybus could sit at the charger at Palmovka for the rest of each hour as seen in the first picture. I later discovered that for the other half hour, the charger was used by a conventional battery bus used on a short-working on route 109.

Now DPP is looking for a fleet of 15 combined trolley/battery buses to convert the 140. There is an article here - in Czech but I think most web browsers should translate it into something near enough English to get the gist of it!
 

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Mikey C

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Given how many electric buses operate in China, I'm fairly sure that they have some pretty big hills out there.
Shenzen is the real pioneer in electric bus use, but is pretty flat. As this article notes, Hong Kong which is much hillier hasn't gone over to all electric yet, indeed it's still buying diesel E500s


Another fairly hilly London route is the single deck 46 which goes up to Hampstead.
 

samulih

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To me the hillier routes and more rural routes are not a problem if run with some Euro5 or better standard diesel buses. Electric buses are much better for cities where the pollution is causing a health emergency.
 
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61653 HTAFC

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What's wrong with recharging? Most electric buses in operation around Europe charge at the terminal points.
Harrogate does similar but London buses rely on depot charging only.
I think the issue is if the hill is in the middle of the route, and climbing it drains the battery, how does the bus complete the route without stopping to charge at the kerb for 10+ minutes mid-route?
 

Ken H

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Be interesting to see what happens when the batteries get a little tired at the end of their lives and bus companies are reluctant to invest in new batteries....
 

johncrossley

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I think the issue is if the hill is in the middle of the route, and climbing it drains the battery, how does the bus complete the route without stopping to charge at the kerb for 10+ minutes mid-route?

Your typical articulated electric bus, including power for air conditioning, can do about 200 km so it is highly doubtful that it wouldn't be able to cover a single route in one direction no matter how hilly. The debate is whether you can run a bus all day without charging which seems to be important in the cost conscious British situation. In other countries where charging at the end of the route is normal you don't expect a bus to be able to go all day without charging. That way they can run buses at higher speeds out of town and allow for "luxuries" such as double glazing and air conditioning.
 

Bletchleyite

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That way they can run buses at higher speeds out of town and allow for "luxuries" such as double glazing and air conditioning.

Glad that you referred to them as "luxuries" in quotes. They are essentials. You won't attract anyone out of their car without them, as a damp bus with steamed up windows simply doesn't compare to your air-conditioned car in any way.
 

Ken H

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I can see them leasing batteries as a service, the same as many bus companies do with tyres (really!)
How does that work? Leasing relies on residual value* at the end of the lease to make it work. Old tyres and batteries will have limited residual value so the leasing costs will be very high.

* The value of the leased item at the end of the lease. The selling of leased items at the end of their lease is an important part of leasing profitability.
 
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