The lighTram® 19 DC in the new livery for Geneva
21 September 2023
The Swiss bus manufacturer HESS is experiencing sustained high demand for its e-bus systems and is therefore expanding its capacity. HESS was awarded the contract in the two international tenders in Lyon and Geneva for the electrification of the respective bus fleets. In the next four years the company will supply a total of 127 articulated electric buses to France and 121 single- and double-articulated electric buses to Lake Geneva. The contracts also include the supply of the charging infrastructure and options for up to 241additional buses by 2030. The new buses will significantly expand the electric bus fleets in both major cities.
The sustained positive order book at HESS means further expansion of capacity at Bellach (Canton of Solothurn) and in the new factory in Portugal. The number of people employed by the HESS Group has increased by about 800. This has created about 40 additional jobs in Bellach alone, particularly in the fields of diagnostics, mechanics, automatic controls and software development. In addition, the coming months will see the implementation of building works for the expansion and optimisation of production.
In Lyon, politicians and the city administration have agreed an investment package which not only comprises the purchase of a modern fleet of trolleybuses with high-performance batteries, but also enables the deployment of these vehicles on routes previously operated by diesel buses. This will massively reduce both noise and CO2 emissions. The overhead line network is also being expanded, however, longer sections of the new routes will operate without overhead lines. The trolleybuses will run in battery-only mode on these sections. The new vehicles will supplement the fleet of 34 vehicles of the same type that have already been in operation since February 2021. The HESS buses already in service are operating on the C13 route, which connects the 8th arrondissement of Lyon (Grange Blanche) with Caluire-et-Cuire (Montessuy) and is used by over 27,000 passengers per day. From Spring 2024, the entire C13 route will be operated with the new HESS articulated buses, which can cover up to 40 per cent of the route in battery-only mode without overhead lines. This will be followed in September by the C11 route. The expansion of the trolleybus system is part of a comprehensive package of measures which is aimed at completely doing away with diesel buses by about 2026.
In Geneva, the transport authority (TPG) will have an all-electric bus fleet by 2030. As a system provider, HESS supplies a turnkey system comprising vehicles and the charging infrastructure. Hitachi Energy (formerly Hitachi ABB Power Grids until 2020) will contribute the necessary infrastructure for this as a subcontractor of HESS. The first new HESS e-buses will come into service on the route from 2025. The vehicles are recharged via rapid-charging stations at the bus terminals and selected intermediate stops. The rapid charging technology enables recharging in seconds and minimises vehicle downtime.
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