Trolleybuses

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anthony263

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With Cardiff at the moment there is a three-way argument between the trolley, rail and tram lobbyists.
The tram/light rail supporters want to convert the city line to light rail and extend the bay branch as a tram extension and have talked about running a line around the castle and down queen street.
The rail lobby of course wants electrification as a way to improve service and have a "valleys metro" with St Fagans or Ely re-opening due to better braking/acceleration of EMU operation.
and the trolley supporters who want to simply electrify the busiest bus routes and replace the diesel buses with electric. This is being promoted as the cheap option compared to the previous two.

I myself would love to see trolleybuses return to the streets of Cardiff as in my view they are the better option than trams, and the connection between Cardiff and the rest of other large/medium cities is of course all USED to have a trolley system

I wouldn mind seing some articulated trolly buses back in Cardiff perhaps say on the baycar route and the City Centre - Ely routes where Cardiff bus operate their bendys on (Which no doubt are brilliant and lovely to travel on).

We have seen Cardif city council want to run a BRT service down to St Fagans something which I am not sure teh roads could cope with (hard enough with a dart at times) and I would vote no to having a railway station at St Fagans trains are bad enough during the peaks as it is not sure about Ely however perhaps a station could be built on the cityline?

I would agree with the Cardiff Queen St - Cardiff bay line being converted to light rail and extended to serve other parts of Cardiff Bay
 
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MK Tom

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Aren't trolleybuses also a bit kinder on roads they use than diesel buses what with being lighter through having no engine?
 

BestWestern

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Another issue is the complexity of the overheads, bus routes are rarely very straight, weaving their way though areas to create the maximum coverage. High frequency trunk routes are often made up of many different services who have slightly different routes.

The latest technology allows trolleys to operate under the wires for part of a route and then under their own power for other parts. I flicked through an article a while back, from what I recall there is a fairly recent concept whereby the bus raises a second boom and draws a substantial charge from what I think is known as a 'super capacitor' whilst waiting for a couple of minutes at certain stops. This provides enough charge for the bus to make it's own progress over un-wired sections of route. I'm happy to be corrected on the details, but I think that's roughly how it works! A rather good idea, the best of both worlds.
 

WatcherZero

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Same technology is used in trams, its for short (few hundred metres) sections without wires, usually through historical squares where permission for overheads wont be granted. Usually its done by having induction magnets beneath a stop, the vehicle waits a few minutes at the stop absorbing charge before making the sprint off wires.

Yes lighter axle weight rubber tyres are a bit kinder on tarmac as long as the drivers vary a little. If they repeatedly drive over the same area (which tends to happen on corners with trolleybuses or on offroad sections/stop laybys) they can actually cause more damage though, wearing grooves in the road surface.
 

starrymarkb

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Same technology is used in trams, its for short (few hundred metres) sections without wires, usually through historical squares where permission for overheads wont be granted. Usually its done by having induction magnets beneath a stop, the vehicle waits a few minutes at the stop absorbing charge before making the sprint off wires.

Yes lighter axle weight rubber tyres are a bit kinder on tarmac as long as the drivers vary a little. If they repeatedly drive over the same area (which tends to happen on corners with trolleybuses or on offroad sections/stop laybys) they can actually cause more damage though, wearing grooves in the road surface.

The French found that happened with rubber tyred trams* in Nancy and Caen


*They are guided trolleybuses
 

scandal

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The Caen system of Guided Light Transit is of course being replaced by Light Rail by 2018. In fact Bombardier are no longer promoting this form of urban guided transit.

I'd expect the new trolleybuses to have some sort of capacitor to allow them to overtake and to take into account diversions in bus routes, if as claimed in this thread there are no utility diversions taking place, which I for one am surprised at. Of course like with light rail vehicles which can have this feature the batteries are fairly expensive and need replacing every few years. One of the debates when comparing light rail and bus guiding is, taking away the fixed infrastructure advantages of light rail which bus guiding attempts to address is the lifespan of vehicles, light rail vehicles are typically expected to last some 30 years where as a bus would be optimistically nearer 8 on such a high profile route. Also considering that as far as I am aware there are no other UK trolleybuses, I'd expect a batch for this system to be expensive since it would be a one off batch in right hand drive to meet UK road specifications and also the infrastructure, even though trolleybuses can be bought "off the shelf" in Europe I'd expect certain modifications to be required for operation in Leeds.

I am not against trolleybuses, I think they are a useful way of addressing the urban transport problem, but I feel that high flow, long distance, cross city services are not there best fit, instead such would be more suited to a rail based alternative, with electric/hybrid buses linking the suburbs to the key interchanges. Incidentally has anyone found out whether the OHLE is suitable for light rail operation if in a few years and significant demand growth light rail conversion was suggested?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
With Nottingham and Birmingham having trams (and Edinburgh to come, by the end of the centuary), plus Glasgow/Cardiff having a fairly intense heavy rail service does that leave Bristol as the biggest place without any of these arrangements?

Not anymore.

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/100-...network-2016/story-16492523-detail/story.html
 

aformeruser

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It says something that in 2012 it costs £250 Mill to build a trolleybus in Leeds, yet within the past 15 years we only paid £200 Mill for a much better quality and more attractive tramway in Nottingham. Compare that to the recent costs of extending Metrolink in Manchester!

The recent new Metrolink openings have been:
* MediaCity spur - possibly one of the shortest spurs ever built.
* Chorlton line - converted disused spur off Altrincham line.
* Oldham Loop - heavy rail conversion not new line altogether.

One of the proposal for an actual new line was the Leigh line, which TfGM have abandoned in favour of a cheaper guided bus way.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Same technology is used in trams, its for short (few hundred metres) sections without wires, usually through historical squares where permission for overheads wont be granted. Usually its done by having induction magnets beneath a stop, the vehicle waits a few minutes at the stop absorbing charge before making the sprint off wires.

What's the maximum distance this would work for? I'm thinking Florence has a tram line from Florence S.M.N. station going away from the historic centre but has a huge historic centre so would electric trams without overhead wires be able to operate here?

Yes lighter axle weight rubber tyres are a bit kinder on tarmac as long as the drivers vary a little. If they repeatedly drive over the same area (which tends to happen on corners with trolleybuses or on offroad sections/stop laybys) they can actually cause more damage though, wearing grooves in the road surface.

No more damage than the groves in lane 1 of Motorways caused by numerous heavy lorries.
 

WatcherZero

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What's the maximum distance this would work for? I'm thinking Florence has a tram line from Florence S.M.N. station going away from the historic centre but has a huge historic centre so would electric trams without overhead wires be able to operate here?

Variable by the amount of weight of batteries/capacitors you willing to carry and the time your willing to spend charging.
 

bb21

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The latest technology allows trolleys to operate under the wires for part of a route and then under their own power for other parts. I flicked through an article a while back, from what I recall there is a fairly recent concept whereby the bus raises a second boom and draws a substantial charge from what I think is known as a 'super capacitor' whilst waiting for a couple of minutes at certain stops. This provides enough charge for the bus to make it's own progress over un-wired sections of route. I'm happy to be corrected on the details, but I think that's roughly how it works! A rather good idea, the best of both worlds.

Super-capacitor technology is still at its infancy and is not yet fit for purpose. They're hugely expensive and is not being widely developed in the world.

The only place where investment is being poured into research about this area is Shanghai. There is a small paragraph about it in Wiki. Two routes in the city currently utilise super-capacitor buses, having replaced trolleybuses in 2005 (Route 11) and 2009 (Route 26). The only reason for the investment is that the city government are hell-bent on getting rid of what they call "ancient" trolleybus technology, which is unsurprising given that there has been no investment in the world's oldest continuously-running system (since 1914) for at least a decade.

I am aware of an article in Buses a few months back praising this new technology, nevertheless first-hand information from one of my contacts has suggested that it is far from reliable, with a much lower mileage between charges than anticipated (with some vehicles requiring a charge every half a mile and each charge taking a minimum of 30 seconds), thereby resulting in problems where the buses were holding up traffic and causing congestion in the narrow streets. Journey times compared to when trolleybuses were used have massively increased, and patronage on these two routes has fallen. Lost mileage for December 2011 on Route 26 is 17% (due to the fact that the operating schedule is still written for trolleybus operation as the governing authority never gave the formal approval for the "change of mode" application).

I'd expect the new trolleybuses to have some sort of capacitor to allow them to overtake and to take into account diversions in bus routes, if as claimed in this thread there are no utility diversions taking place, which I for one am surprised at.

...

I am not against trolleybuses, I think they are a useful way of addressing the urban transport problem, but I feel that high flow, long distance, cross city services are not there best fit, instead such would be more suited to a rail based alternative, with electric/hybrid buses linking the suburbs to the key interchanges. Incidentally has anyone found out whether the OHLE is suitable for light rail operation if in a few years and significant demand growth light rail conversion was suggested?

Existing battery technology is far more advanced than capacitors. There are various examples around the world where batteries are being deployed at places where off-wire running is a necessity.

Diversionary routes which would be frequently used should be wired up, as off-wire running is expensive whichever technology is deployed. Batteries should only be used as backup as the last resort, not as a normal mode of operation. Unfortunately, like many other modes of transport, a one-route system will never be as efficient as if there were a network of routes.

I do not agree that trolleybuses are unsuitable for cross city services. Their superior acceleration and zero pollution properties make them ideal candidates for routes where vehicles have to stop frequently to pick up passengers and where traffic conditions dictate that stop-starts are commonplace. Trolleybuses can run at a frequency of less than a minute, and with double-articulated vehicles available, there is no reason why they cannot be suited to the busiest of routes.
 

BestWestern

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You make some interesting point in your posts bb21; I had certainly gained the impression that the super-capacitor kit was the next big thing, but perhaps not. Battery power it is then, for now at least!
 

Clip

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Its success will depend on how quick a journey time it can give, it cant spend too much of the routes sharing the same road as other traffic. .

Why not? Last Trolley buses I went on was in Wellington and they shared all routes with traffic and I never encountered any problems with them. Even going up some of the massive hills behind one of them.
 

starrymarkb

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Why not? Last Trolley buses I went on was in Wellington and they shared all routes with traffic and I never encountered any problems with them. Even going up some of the massive hills behind one of them.

No technical reason, more from a bus priority viewpoint, its better to keep the service out of traffic (either dedicated RoW or Bus lanes) so it doesn't get jammed in traffic!
 

Rational Plan

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I could see a future where a towns main roads were electrified and bus routes that went past that had buses that switched to diesel electric hybrid. If the new bus for London is a diesel electric hybrid, It can't be too much of a stretch for to run off the wires as well.


Depending on the economic of it all only roads with more than 4/6 buses and hour need be electrified.

I wonder how far overhead could spread? I hear Siemans want to convert a section of Autobahn to test overhead power and have trucks have pantograghs fitted. Several people are advocating a similar test route in California.

With particulates a major concern getting major roads converted to electric could have big health benefits.
 

tbtc

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Why not? Last Trolley buses I went on was in Wellington and they shared all routes with traffic and I never encountered any problems with them. Even going up some of the massive hills behind one of them.

No technical reason, more from a bus priority viewpoint, its better to keep the service out of traffic (either dedicated RoW or Bus lanes) so it doesn't get jammed in traffic!

This is one of the biggest issues for me. Why is a trolleybus better than a bus? Leeds could introuce a bus service from Holt Park to Stourton (with modern buses like Enviro 400Hs) without all the costs of Trolleybus infrastructure, yet a Trolleybus is seen as The Future.

A normal bus could do all the things that a Trolleybus could do (run on segregated routes, either using guide wheels or "bus lanes"), there should be no speed differences etc, so what's the difference?

Is it more to do with perception and confidence (i.e. that people have boarded the right vehicle)? Why do they think that more people would board a Trolleybus than a "conventional" bus?
 

flymo

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bb21

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This is one of the biggest issues for me. Why is a trolleybus better than a bus? Leeds could introuce a bus service from Holt Park to Stourton (with modern buses like Enviro 400Hs) without all the costs of Trolleybus infrastructure, yet a Trolleybus is seen as The Future.

Superior acceleration, zero pollution, more powerful in hilly terrain, just as flexible (almost) as modern diesel vehicles but more so than trams ...

There is no simple answer that one is better than the other, only that they suit different environments.
 

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Superior acceleration, zero pollution, more powerful in hilly terrain, just as flexible (almost) as modern diesel vehicles but more so than trams ...

There is no simple answer that one is better than the other, only that they suit different environments.

Very much this really. Deisel is becoming more and more expensive and surely electricity is the greener option ( you all seem to want the countries train routes electrified) and they are just as maneauverable(sp) as buses anyway.

Flymo ill check your pics out later as they are blocked on here but the new ones are fantastic
 

flymo

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Very much this really. Deisel is becoming more and more expensive and surely electricity is the greener option ( you all seem to want the countries train routes electrified) and they are just as maneauverable(sp) as buses anyway.

Flymo ill check your pics out later as they are blocked on here but the new ones are fantastic

No worries, I've added direct links too just in case there are any difficulties. (not too good at adding images :) )
 

tbtc

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Superior acceleration, zero pollution, more powerful in hilly terrain, just as flexible (almost) as modern diesel vehicles but more so than trams ...

Those are reasons that the PTE (etc) will be in favour, and I broadly agree, but those aren't reasons that passengers will consider - I'm wondering why more people are expected to use a Trolleybus than a "conventional" bus - the journey may be marginally faster (though negligibly so, if stuck in the same traffic).
 

Clip

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No worries, I've added direct links too just in case there are any difficulties. (not too good at adding images :) )

Nah its not because of that just my work server blocks lots of websites including photobucket and flickr so cant see many images
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Those are reasons that the PTE (etc) will be in favour, and I broadly agree, but those aren't reasons that passengers will consider - I'm wondering why more people are expected to use a Trolleybus than a "conventional" bus - the journey may be marginally faster (though negligibly so, if stuck in the same traffic).

Are they planning to run them on the same route though? If so that would be silly but surely dedicated routes for Trolleybuses would not pose the problem you speak of
--- old post above ---
 
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LE Greys

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Those are reasons that the PTE (etc) will be in favour, and I broadly agree, but those aren't reasons that passengers will consider - I'm wondering why more people are expected to use a Trolleybus than a "conventional" bus - the journey may be marginally faster (though negligibly so, if stuck in the same traffic).

Quieter inside and a smoother ride. Having sat on plenty of diesel buses with a lot of vibration when idling, I imagiine that the ordinary passenger will like them as they sit silently at the traffic lights. If they like them, they will tend to use them more (assuming this is a route replacement, it will either need more buses or bigger buses).
 

scandal

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In response to some of the arguments put forward by bb21 I'll counter as follows.

Part of the advantage of trolleybuses over conventional electric buses is that they run on fixed infrastructure and therefore unlike conventional electric buses do not suffer from limitation of range, by not diverting utilities under the route the trolleybus system leaves itself open to future problems of roadworks and because of the fixed nature of trolleybuses undermines part of their business case over conventional electric buses. The argument of additional wiring would surely increase capital costs and therefore need the benefits compared to other transport schemes re-evaluated.

In response to the 'superior acceleration and zero pollution properties' as you are no doubt aware this is also possible on hybrid and electric buses as well as light rail, this pursuance of such sustainability is commonplace and the alternatives to trolleybuses, I would argue also meet this criteria. So we have to consider why are trolleybuses being used over for example a fleet of conventional electric buses and full bus priority measures (segregation, light rail esque stops, guiding, etc)? The advantage of capital investment in wires may appear to provide commitment from the public sector to transport improvements but they are by no means as permanent as light rail. The infrastructure can easily be removed at little cost if the project failed to live up to expectation as seen elsewhere in Europe. It should be noted even the most advance Bus Rapid Transit systems, those notable in South America fail to meet operating costs through the farebox. Finally the chance to redevelop and redesign Leeds city centre is missed with these proposals, unlike the mass pedestrianisation accompanied with light rail in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Strasbourg, etc (see Hass-Klau, 2004) trolleybuses can not mix with pedestrians as light rail can, it therefore limits the access availability to the CBD, regeneration impacts are yet to be proven from such schemes and modal shift appears weaker then LRT. My conclusion remains that for such a high population on such a high demand transport corridor, trolleybuses remain an inferior choice to high capacity light rail which can permeate the city centre easier and acts as a far greater catalyst for city centre regeneration then any other urban transport scheme.
 

LE Greys

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From the sounds of things, we're talking horses for courses here. On a high-density, high-frequency urban route, the fixed infrasructure costs of building tramways would be justified. This covers the big city routes we see in Nottingham. Manchester, etc. Therefore, other big cities such as Leeds, Bristol and hopefully London would benefit greatly from such things. The ability to run in pedestrianised areas helps this.

If we're simply looking to replace some diesel buses on lower-frequency routes, then battery buses are probably a workable system, provided the recharge time is short enough to make it practical. Similarly, fuel cell or hybrid buses can work such routes.

Specifically on trolleybuses, where are they useful? Well, places such as Luton, with a dedicated busway would be a good start. Aberdeen would be another example, since it has a dense and complicated bus network with lots of variable routes. They slot neatly between the two systems, since they have lower startup costs than tramways, and have no range limitation. Nor are the systems mutually-exclusive. There is no reason why a trolleybus cannot run off a tram wire, it would simply need a neutral wire strung alongside it - indeed the two systems share wires all round the world, as they did in many British cities and still do at Beamish. Nor is there any reason why battery buses can't recharge from the wires, or simply draw power from them over wired sections. Indeed, having backup batteries makes it easier and safer to move about depots or make short diversions.

So, taking Aberdeen as an example, how should it be handled? Start by identifying the busiest routes (fairly easy, the 1 and 2) then wire those. Then spread the wires to routes that share with the 1 and 2 (basically, most that go down Union Street and King Street) and start wiring the busier bits, those with a 6bph or more service for instance. This might apply to Broad Street and Great Northern Road. For less-busy sections, such as the ends of the 19, (assuming 6bph is the cutoff) use battery buses with charging stations available at route termini. It also might be an idea to develop an easy way to raise the poles from the cab, someone else will have to tell me if that is possible. Conversion to an all-electric system would probably take about 10 years, and would fit in with the usual renewal cycle of buses, plus some cascades, to avoid inefficient use of resources. Longer-distance Stagecoach routes would still require diesel buses, unless battery technology improves so that it would be possible to reach Peterhead on one charge in reasonable time.
 

bb21

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by not diverting utilities under the route the trolleybus system leaves itself open to future problems of roadworks

That is where off-wire technology can be utilised. There are plenty of examples around the world where sections of routes are run off the overheads and use auxiliary power, both as a temporary solution and as a permanent fixture on some routes.

For example, super-capacitors can be used for short sections of off-wire running in order to avoid some temporary roadworks which are then charged while the vehicle is in contact with the overheads. (I know I have criticised the way this technology is being deployed at the moment, however that is only because it is not being used in the correct manner.)

because of the fixed nature of trolleybuses undermines part of their business case over conventional electric buses. The argument of additional wiring would surely increase capital costs and therefore need the benefits compared to other transport schemes re-evaluated.

A trolleybus system would undoubtedly require a large initial outlay for infrustructure, and is unlikely to be cost-effective until scales of economy kicks in and a network of routes is formed. This is equally true for guided busways, light rail systems and other modes of transportation. I don't see the difference.

In response to the 'superior acceleration and zero pollution properties' as you are no doubt aware this is also possible on hybrid and electric buses as well as light rail, this pursuance of such sustainability is commonplace and the alternatives to trolleybuses, I would argue also meet this criteria.

Light-rail systems certainly do, however they are much more expensive to build. Hybrid technology is not pollution-free, and electric buses are not currently capable of long ranges between charges.

Trolleybuses have an edge over all these alternatives.

I am not saying that trolleybuses are the solution for everything, however their strengths seem to be overlooked in many quarters.

So we have to consider why are trolleybuses being used over for example a fleet of conventional electric buses and full bus priority measures (segregation, light rail esque stops, guiding, etc)?

Electric bus technology is nowhere near as advanced as trolleybuses and battery disposal is still a problem which we have no solution for.

Traffic priority is a must for any system. I don't agree with the opinion that light-rail-type roadside infrastructure is a necessity. Why do we need raised curbs when the vehicles will be low-floor and fully accessible?

The advantage of capital investment in wires may appear to provide commitment from the public sector to transport improvements but they are by no means as permanent as light rail. The infrastructure can easily be removed at little cost if the project failed to live up to expectation as seen elsewhere in Europe.

... which surely would be an advantage rather than a drawback, wouldn't it? Edinburgh would be your best example.

If the local government is totally committed to investment in a particular mode of transport, it does not matter which form it takes.

Finally the chance to redevelop and redesign Leeds city centre is missed with these proposals, unlike the mass pedestrianisation accompanied with light rail in Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Strasbourg, etc (see Hass-Klau, 2004) trolleybuses can not mix with pedestrians as light rail can, it therefore limits the access availability to the CBD, regeneration impacts are yet to be proven from such schemes and modal shift appears weaker then LRT. My conclusion remains that for such a high population on such a high demand transport corridor, trolleybuses remain an inferior choice to high capacity light rail which can permeate the city centre easier and acts as a far greater catalyst for city centre regeneration then any other urban transport scheme.

There is absolutely no reason why Leeds city centre cannot be pedestrianised with trolleybuses running through it. Much of this remains speculation though as trolleybuses serve many cities worldwide with far higher passenger flows without any problem so there is no reason why it cannot work in Leeds.
 
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