Stagecoach North East has joined forces with Scania to bring Britain’s first biogas-powered double decker to the streets of Sunderland.
The state-of-the-art gas bus will be trialled on the X24 express service, which runs from Sunderland to Newcastle, from 30th July for six weeks. It is a first for the national bus operator, with Sunderland chosen as the city to demonstrate its latest green technology.
The bus has been developed over a two-year period by Scania, the Sweden-based commercial vehicle manufacturer, specifically for the UK bus market. With emissions of carbon dioxide reduced by up to 84 per cent, the vehicle can operate on biogas created from waste products such as household food waste, or waste water.
With the capacity to seat up to 76 passengers, Stagecoach North East welcomes the opportunity to host the gas bus during the trial, which it believes will deliver lower running costs, alongside the environmental benefits of cleaner engines.
Gary Chisholm, Engineering Director at Stagecoach North East’s Sunderland depot, said: "Stagecoach North East is committed to reducing its environmental impact and with 40 single decker gas buses in our fleet at Sunderland; this is a further demonstration of our green credentials.
“Trialling new low-emission technologies to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions help us move towards our environmental goals, and support our group-wide 'Green Road' environmental programme. We're looking forward to seeing our passengers on the X24 service experience this exciting new double decker and we welcome their feedback on the experience.”
Scania has a long history of producing gas-powered vehicles for European markets but developing a product to supply to bus operators in the UK has been a greater challenge. Mark Oliver, Scania's UK Bus and Coach Fleet Sales General Manager, explains: "Unlike mainland Europe, British bus networks use a high proportion of double deck buses. Across Europe, single deck buses with gas tanks on the roof are a common sight, but for the UK we have had to accommodate the tanks within the double deck bodywork itself.”
During the trial, the bus will be fuelled using the existing gas fuelling station at the bus company’s depot in Sunderland that is shared with the single deck gas buses in the local area.
Tanya Neech, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Fuels at Scania added: “The biogas double deck bus has been independently tested and is accredited under the Low Emission Bus Scheme. Of the 19 models approved through the scheme our biogas double decker is the greenest bus available with a Well to Wheel (WTW) CO2 saving of 84 percent.”
The X24 inter-urban express service, launched in January of this year, operates every 30 minutes, Monday to Saturday, from Fawcett Street in Sunderland City Centre to Pilgrim Street in Newcastle. It also runs evening services at 7.24pm in Sunderland and 8.10pm in Newcastle respectively, offering a speedy service for commuters, and shopping and leisure visits to both cities.