• Sadiq launches the first double-decker hydrogen bus fleet in England
  • These 20 new hydrogen fuel cell double decker buses which will reduce TfL’s carbon footprint and further reduce harmful emissions to help ensure Londoners breathe cleaner air.
  • The hydrogen buses join a fleet of over 500 electric buses – one of the largest fleets in Western Europe. The aim is to make all London buses zero emission by 2030.
  • Mayor highlights the benefits that green investments from TfL is having in different parts of the country
  • Customers will enjoy smoother, quieter journeys and USB charging points

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today launch England’s first ever hydrogen double decker buses, marking another major step towards making the bus fleet zero-emission and cleaning up London’s toxic air.

The 20 new environmentally-friendly buses, the first of their kind to be launched in England, will produce no pollution from their exhausts and join more than 500 electric buses in the core fleet which are already zero-emission. The new hydrogen fuel cell double decker buses are first being introduced on route 7 between East Acton and Oxford Circus.

Hydrogen used in a fuel cell is free from harmful emissions. The only by-product is water from the chemical reaction of hydrogen with oxygen from air, a process that produces electricity to power the bus. The buses will help clean up the air and improve the health of Londoners by reducing the level of harmful nitrogen oxide in the air. Passengers will benefit from smoother, quieter journeys due to fewer vibrations and will be able to take advantage of free-to-use USB charging points.

The Mayor’s green transport investment is also supporting jobs across the UK. The buses were manufactured by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, helping to create new jobs, and the gas cylinders are manufactured by Luxfer in Nottingham. The hydrogen for the buses is currently being produced at Air Liquide’s plant in Runcorn, harnessing waste hydrogen as a by-product from an industrial chlor-alkali plant. Oxford-based Ryze Hydrogen is responsible for transporting the fuel to the fuelling station. From 2023, the hydrogen will be even greener as it will be produced by electrolysis powered by a direct connection to an offshore windfarm.

A new, state of the art fuelling station completed by Danish engineering firm Nel Hydrogen will top up each hydrogen fuel cell bus just once per day in as little as five minutes.

In addition to around £6 million of funding from TfL, more than £5 million of funding has been provided by European bodies – by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission – as well as £1 million from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles.

TfL has paved the way for cheaper hydrogen buses across the rest of the UK, having led the UK procurement within the Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles across Europe (JIVE), to buy in bulk with other UK authorities. In total, the JIVE project seeks to deploy 139 new zero-emission fuel cell buses and associated refuelling infrastructure across five European countries and has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking.

With sustained financial support from the Government, TfL could look to accelerate its plans for a zero-emission bus fleet from 2037 to 2030 in order to reduce carbon emissions and address the public health emergency caused by dirty air.

The Mayor will today visit Perivale bus depot in Ealing to see the new hydrogen double decker and new hydrogen refuelling station.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We have made real progress in London to clean up our air, but we still have a long way to go because toxic air pollution in our city is still leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and is stunting the growth of children’s lungs. As part of our world-leading ongoing efforts, I’m proud to announce England’s first hydrogen double decker buses, which don’t produce any harmful emissions, will now be put into service.

“Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air, but is supporting jobs and local economics across the UK. This is a great demonstration of how tackling air pollution and the climate crisis and boosting economic growth is about regions working together, investing in the very latest technology.

“I’ve worked hard to ensure TfL’s entire core bus fleet across London now meets the ULEZ standards, and this includes 500 electric buses. Our new investment in hydrogen buses will move us even closer to our ambition of making all London buses zero-emission by 2030.”

Interim Director of Buses, Transport for London, Geoff Hobbs said: “London may have one of the cleanest bus fleets in Europe, but we need to continue to act now to tackle climate change and the city’s toxic air quality. Introducing these hydrogen double decker buses to our fleet, alongside electric buses, diversifies our green bus portfolio and helps us use the right technology for the varying operational requirements of our vast network. This will help Londoners breathe cleaner air.”

Our investment in hydrogen won’t just benefit London, either. Outside the capital, we are supporting jobs across the UK and our involvement with the industry across Europe is making cleaner fuels more affordable to cities all over Europe.”

Wrightbus CEO, Buta Atwal, said: “At Wrightbus, we’re incredibly proud to be launching our world-first zero emission hydrogen double deckers onto the streets of London to help turn its iconic red buses green. London residents – and visitors to the capital from around the world – can experience what it’s like to ride in a UK-made hydrogen-fuelled vehicle that produces no harmful emissions from its exhaust. Thanks to TfL’s visionary approach, the city will have the first fleet of hydrogen double deckers in England and the benefits to the city in terms of CO2 reduction will be significant. We hope that other cities around the country will follow London’s lead and help us in our ambition to decarbonise public transport and improve air quality.”

Sean O’Shea, CEO at Metroline said: “Hydrogen is an extremely promising renewable fuel for public transport vehicles and we are looking forward to proving its application on London’s roads. The hydrogen buses are an exciting new addition to our fleet, and highlight Metroline’s continued dedication to making London’s streets greener. Our engineering teams have been hard at work preparing the buses for service and we are proud to be operating the first hydrogen powered double-deck buses in London in the hope that it will further showcase the application of sustainable vehicles in the capital.”

Bart Biebuyck, Executive Director of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen joint undertaking (FCH JU), said: “We are proud to see that thanks to our grant the JIVE project enables the market size scale-up of fuel cell buses in Europe and contributes to the price reduction for the entire value chain. With green hydrogen solutions we can improve the air quality of London and build a climate-neutral transport system for our future generations. London has long and successful history with fuel cell buses and played a key role in leading a joint procurement scheme on behalf of several UK cities for the deployment of world first double decker buses running on hydrogen”.

Jens Egholt Rasmussen, Senior Director Global Sales at Nel Hydrogen A/S, said: “In May 2019, we were proud to announce a contract for a bus H2Station™ solution for Transport for London. Today, I’m happy to confirm a dual bus H2Station™ has been commissioned and is now fully operational. While currently in the ramp-up phase, eventually, 20 buses will be fuelled at the station on a daily basis. Hydrogen buses are already a competitive alternative to battery buses, with significantly faster fuelling time and therefore, less downtime. They are also becoming more of a competitive alternative to diesel buses on a total cost of ownership basis. The market for such solutions is growing quickly and we see significant opportunities going forward. This is an important step in the right direction.”

Notes to editors

  • London Mayor Sadiq Khan will visit Perivale bus depot in Ealing on Wednesday 23 June to take a ride on one of the new buses and see the new fuelling station completed by Danish firm Nel Hydrogen.
  • The use of hydrogen powered buses in addition to battery electric allows TfL to match the right fuel with the operational requirements of the network. Hydrogen buses store large quantities of energy, which can make them well-suited to longer routes.
  • As part of TfL’s wider work to make buses greener, by January this year all buses in its core fleet had been brought up to strict Euro VI emissions standards following a retrofitting programme. Since 2017, TfL has worked to phase out polluting diesel buses and to retrofit older buses with cleaner engines. Now completed, this will see harmful NOx emissions from buses fall by an average of 90 per cent. Transport for London has a total fleet size of c9,000.
    • The European funding is provided by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), and the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), an executive agency of the European Commission. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), which provided £1 million in funding, is a team working across government to support the early market for ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV).
    • The overall objective of the JIVE projects is to promote the commercialisation of fuel cell buses through the use of vehicles and infrastructure on a large-scale so that at the end of the project fuel cell buses are commercially viable for bus operators and can be incorporated into their fleets without subsidies.

Objectives of the JIVE and JIVE 2 projects:

  • Achieve the deployment of nearly 300 fuel cell buses across Europe.
  • Foster joint procurement processes, encourage manufacturers to develop and refine their fuel cell bus offers, allowing cities to access economies of scale.
  • Validate large scale fleets of fuel cell buses in operation and encourage further uptake.
  • Showcase fuel cell buses as an environmentally friendly option for public transport authorities, offering the same operational flexibility as diesel buses but without the harmful tailpipe emissions.
  • Deploy largest hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe and operate them at near 100% reliability.
  • Demonstrate routes to achieve low-cost renewable hydrogen.
  • Share data and best practice to support the adoption of the technology and provide evidence of the suitability of fuel cell buses for a full roll-out.
    • The JIVE and JIVE2 projects have received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 735582 and 779563. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe, and Hydrogen Europe Research.
    • The Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) is a unique public-private partnership supporting research, technological development and demonstration activities in fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies in Europe. It aims to accelerate the market introduction of these technologies, realising their potential as an instrument in achieving a carbon-lean energy system. Fuel cells, as an efficient conversion technology, and hydrogen, as a clean energy carrier, have a great potential to help fight carbon dioxide emissions, to reduce dependence on hydrocarbons and to contribute to economic growth. The objective of the FCH JU is to bring these benefits to Europeans through a concentrated effort from all sectors. The three members of the FCH JU are the European Commission, Hydrogen Europe and N.ERGHY. More info: www.fch.europa.eu
    • Face coverings are still required by law across the TfL network, including on buses, unless an exemption applies. TfL’s enforcement officers continue to take a hard line with this requirement and hand out fines to those who do not comply. To further reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission, customers are also encouraged to travel at quieter times, which are currently between 08:15 and 16:00 and after 17:30 on weekdays, and before noon and after 18:00 at weekends. Customers are also asked to keep bus windows open to ensure a good supply of fresh air.
    • Information about quiet times to travel is available at https://tfl.gov.uk/status-updates/busiest-times-to-travel