Futuristic, all-electric ‘tram-buses' to launch in London later this summer

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Futuristic, all-electric ‘tram-buses’ will enter service on the streets of south-east London within a matter of weeks, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.

Built by Spanish firm Irizar, the new buses – called ieTrams – will operate on route 358, linking Orpington with Crystal Palace.

With a sleek look resembling a tram, the buses have large windows and covered wheels, to better protect pedestrians and cyclists from being caught and dragged underneath them.

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The vehicles were originally meant to launch in London in early 2023, but the date has been repeatedly pushed back. The mayor has now said they will launch later this summer.

One of the new Tram bus, which will soon operate on Route 358One of the new Tram bus, which will soon operate on Route 358
One of the new Tram bus, which will soon operate on Route 358 | Credit: Go-Ahead/Mark Lyons

Responding to a written question from Thomas Turrell, the Tory assembly member for Bexley and Bromley, Mr Khan’s office wrote: “The all-electric Route 358 ieTram buses are expected to start operating in summer 2024.

“They will be Transport for London’s (TfL) first end to end ‘Opportunity Charging’ trial, and it is important to get the hardware installed properly before the buses are introduced.

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“The electric buses will use pantograph technology for a quick boost charge at either end of the route, allowing the buses to stay out for the full day.

“The new buses, which resemble a tram, will have enhanced customer features and the latest bus safety specifications.”

A pantograph is a mechanical linkage which conveys power into electric trams, buses and trains. The new buses will be able to recharge in less than ten minutes and will have smaller batteries, reducing the weight being driven each day.

Announcing the new buses in October 2022, TfL said: “The 15-mile route 358 between Crystal Palace and Orpington is one of London’s longest.

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“A standard garage charge [at the start of each morning] alone would not sustain a zero-emission bus the entire day. Due to the length of the route, a pantograph at each end of the route, rather than back at the garage, will mean buses receive a quick boost on the spot.

“With minimal turnaround time, fewer buses can again provide the same level of service.”

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