Bernmobil orders Irizar ieBus artics

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On 5 May, Irizar ieBus 242 stands at Bern Bahnhof, a major interchange which is also the city centre terminus of the newly electrified line 21 in the Swiss capital. ANDREW THOMPSON


The Swiss capital city Bern intends to convert its entire bus fleet to electric operation by 2028, reports Andrew Thompson. In addition to the trolleybus network, which has existed since 1940 and currently consists of the three lines (numbered 11, 12 and 20) with roughly 22km of overhead power lines, the city’s other bus routes are being gradually adapted through the phased introduction of new electric fleets.

Municipal operator Bernmobil is using both electric buses designed for opportunity charging at termini as well as overnight charging at depots. In 2019, city route 17 to the western suburb of Köniz was the first route to be electrified through the installation of opportunity charging infrastructure using five buses from the domestic producer Hess. In 2023, line 21 to the northern suburb Bremgarten was the next to follow. This popular link with growing demand also required a capacity extension from 12m Volvo buses powered by CNG to 18.7 metre articulated buses.

Spanish builder Irizar has supplied Bern with 14 ieBus18 vehicles. These buses will also be suitable for deployment on city route 19, which is planned to be the next to be completely electrified, on its east-west route between Elefenau and Blinzern.

A full launch is likely by 2025. By 2026 electrification of the more peripheral lines 27, 28 and 29 is to follow. For these orbital links, 12m single-deckers will suffice and in late 2023 Bernmobil placed an additional order with Irizar for 16 such buses with options for more. The sub-fleet will be designed for overnight garage charging, with each bus then having a range of up to 250km.

By 2035, Bernmobil hopes to operate its entire electric tram and bus fleet with 100% carbon-free, renewable energy.