The board of the Flemish public transport company De Lijn has given the green light for the publication of a framework tender for 350 all-electric buses and the charging infrastructure needed to operate them. The value is put at between 190 and 230 million euros.
Initially, De Lijn plans to invite tenders for 60 electric 12-meter buses to be added to the fleet in autumn 2022. Contracts for these are to be awarded to two suppliers, with the option of reordering electric buses in several phases later. These electric buses must be able to travel at least 220 kilometres without a charging stop under the most difficult conditions. The tender is to be published shortly.
In addition to the range, De Lijn has formulated its initial requirements. For example, the vehicles must have an electric ramp for passengers with wheelchairs or baby carriages. In addition, the interior is to be given an “inviting character” – through a “warm wood-look floor, LED lighting and seats made of recycled artificial leather.”
In the first phase, three bus depots are to be integrated, specifically Genk-Winterslag, Destelbergen near Ghent and Kortrijk. In the process, the depots will be equipped with charging stations, and staff at the sites will also be trained accordingly, De Lijn said.
Since 2019, De Lijn has been exclusively procuring buses with alternative drives. Until now, these have only buses with hybrid drives such as the 200 hybrid buses the company ordered at VDL. Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters says”With this tender, we are going one step further: e-buses that run completely emission-free thanks to battery technology.”
“De Lijn is determined to make its entire fleet emission-free by 2035,” says Ann Schoubs, general manager of De Lijn. The goal envisaged in the Flemish coalition agreement of using only zero-emission buses in the cities as early as 2025 was abandoned again Schoubs told the mobility committee of the Flemish parliament in March that this goal was “unrealistic”. In January last year, De Lijn said they were going to procure up to 970 e-buses in the short term.