Reading buses gas fuel station opens

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(L-r) Martijn Gilbert, soon to be CEO of Reading Buses, James Freeman, current CEO of Reading Buses, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer and Reading Buses Chairman David Sutton. RAY WILLMOTT
(L-r) Martijn Gilbert, soon to be CEO of Reading Buses, James Freeman, current CEO of Reading Buses, Transport Minister Baroness Kramer and Reading Buses Chairman David Sutton. RAY WILLMOTT

Baroness Kramer is present at the opening of the £1m gas compression station, which will supply Reading Buses’ 34 gas powered ADL Enviro300SG-bodied Scanias

In one of his last public duties as Reading Buses Chief Executive Officer before he leaves at the end of the month, James Freeman invited Transport Minister Baroness Kramer to unveil a plaque commemorating the opening of the operator’s new £1m gas compression station.

“The opening and the Minister’s visit is an amazing moment for me personally,” James told an audience of over 100 guests from the bus industry and representatives from the local community.

“When we decided to go gas, we took a risk and stepped outside our comfort zone big style. We wanted to celebrate the opening of our gas station a year ago, but things took a great deal longer than expected. But it’s here now and running superbly.

“We have got into gas because we were looking for something that gives us a real edge in the commercial sense.

“In the UK, gas as a fuel is still very much in the shade. Given the fact that the diesel engine is beginning to become a public enemy, we thought gas as a fuel for buses was a really good way of making sure that buses continue to be part of people’s lives.”

James explained that at first gas had been brought in on a tanker every day, but now that the infrastructure is complete gas is brought onto site from the mains running under the Great Knollys Street depot, compressed on site and put into storage tanks from which it is taken through to the fuelling station.

The compressed biomethane gas is supplied to Reading Buses by the Gas Vehicle Alliance who produce 9.6 million kgs a year. During the gas cleaning process, they collect the CO2, inject carbon neutral gas into the national grid and then dispense it into the buses from the new gas station.

Baroness Kramer, who arrived at Great Knollys Street in a gas bus, said: “This is a very big step forward.

“Reading has been so successful in going green and bus operators want lower running costs which is part of what you are seeing here today. This investment made in the filling station is a major contribution to the town with a better service to customers and better air quality for the population of Reading as well.

“This will become a template for other bus companies to take on board.

“The people of Reading will benefit from the fact that today I am announcing  investment using the Green Vehicle Technology Fund to help councils adopt cutting edge technology and we are awarding Reading £360,000 which will see more than 100 local taxis running on compressed hybrid fuel.

“This is another achievement driven by the council and community and a cutting edge approach that Reading has to keep down emissions and produce clean air.”

Alan Martin, Scania Manager Special Projects, said that since the introduction of 34 gas buses into Reading its gas engine had been further developed to meet Euro VI standards to improve air quality. Furthermore, Scania is investing in the design and development of double deck gas buses which it hopes to launch towards the end of 2015.