These Swanky New Tram-Buses Are Set To Hit The Streets Of London This Year

Should you be wandering around the area between Crystal Palace and Orpington later this year you might see a fleet of rather futuristic buses passing by. Don’t worry, you won’t have inadvertently been taken in Doc’s time machine, you’ll just be clapping eyes with one of the new buses on the 358 route, which does require roads for its journey.

Though the new concoctions are going to resemble a tram, they won’t be restricted by the lines like actual ones are. These sci-fi-y models were produced by Spanish manufacturers Irizar e-mobility, and go by the name of IeTram, which is said to “[have] the appearance of a tram that combines the large capacity, ease of access and internal configuration of a tram with the flexibility of a city bus”.

They are fully electric and zero emission and provide further expansion of “opportunity charging” for buses around London, using pantographs at each end of the 15-mile route. Rather than taking the buses to the garage for a fresh charge, they can provide a quicker turnaround by remaining at the end of the route, meaning fewer buses can provide an equal service.

TfL’s 850-strong army of electric buses largely need to be charged back at garages, which takes up time so any expansion to the “opportunity charging” model will go some way in reducing emissions. Pantograph technology is currently being rolled out on the 132 route, which also provides fast and high-power charges. By 2034, the aim is for all new bus models to be zero-emission, and this target could even be moved forward to 2030 if additional funding is secured. These new models come after the fleet of 20 hydrogen buses were released on the streets of London in 2021.

20 of these tram buses will hit the streets this year, and TfL has said that more could be popping up across the capital if their launching proves to be a success.

The Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance, said: “Londoners deserve to breathe clean air, and as part of our work to tackle the twin dangers of toxic air pollution and the climate emergency, I’m pleased that this new technology is being used on buses in south London.

“The introduction of the pantograph builds on the progress we have already made to run a cleaner and greener bus service. Transforming London’s bus fleet is an important part of the Mayor’s target of getting London to net zero by 2030, and his aim to build a better London – a fairer, greener and more prosperous city for all.”