A week of transport icons

Jason Ford

News editor

February sees a new bus take to the number 38 route that runs between Victoria Station and Hackney in London.

The new Routemaster, commissioned by London mayor Boris Johnson in 2008, is set to replace so-called bendy buses on the route, and tomorrow David Hampson-Ghani — head of projects in the operations directorate at Transport for London — will deliver a lecture on the project to bring the iconic vehicle back to the capital.

Entitled The new bus for London story, Hampson-Ghani’s presentation will reportedly follow the project from the public competition, the procurement process and the design and development stage, the delivery of the mock-up and testing of the vehicle through to the arrival of the first bus into London in December 2011.

Here’s hoping the Routemaster isn’t blighted by the kind of teething problems encountered by its predecessor, the Mercedes-Benz Citaro (also known as the bendy bus). Much loved by fare dodgers, the bendy-bus fleet was temporarily taken off London’s streets in 2004 following a spate of fires on them.

At the time, Citaro’s UK after-sales support company — Evobus UK — identified a hose in the engines as the cause of the problem.

On their return to duty, the Citaro fleet managed to successfully clog up London’s road junctions and pedestrian crossings with dreary regularity.

This, of course, wasn’t the fault of the Citaro; the vehicle was just too long for London’s streets.

Still with lectures, and news that a talk taking place in Birmingham on Wednesday will address the benefits of biomass co-firing.

Robert Ghent, senior performance engineer at Drax Power Station, will investigate what biomass is, its market potential, how sustainable it is and how it will help meet UK government objectives.

In publicity material, biomass co-firing is said to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (CO2). It is also said to offer reliable and secure renewable energy that is cheaper than other contenders such as offshore wind.

Drax Power Station meets around seven per cent of UK electricity demand and, given the right regulatory framework, Drax reportedly plans to significantly expand its biomass operations.

Back in May 2008, Alstom was awarded around £50m by Drax to build the main processing works associated with the 1.5-million-tonnes-per-year biomass co-firing facility at the 4,000MW Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.

The processing works receive, handle, store and process various biomass materials ready for direct injection into the power station’s coal-fired boilers.

Now then, you didn’t think you could get this far through a Monday Briefing without any mention of electric vehicles (EVs) did you?

EV Charging Infrastructure & Grid Integration 2012 is designed to bring together leading utilities, vehicle manufacturers, distribution system operators, standardisation bodies and regulators from Europe and Asia. 

They will gather in London on Wednesday and Thursday to provide what the organisers say are the latest business models for infrastructure investment and mobility services, case studies of successful E-mobility projects and consumer behavioural studies and provide the latest technological advances in fast-charging, smart-metering and ancillary systems.

The event has come about as there is a perception that many stakeholders are looking for solutions to technical and commercial barriers to the mass adoption of EVs, the evolution of charging infrastructure and the challenges of integrating EVs into the electricity grid.

A huge coup for an EV manufacturer would be to get James Bond behind the wheel of one its cars in a future release from the film franchise. In the interim, the national Motor Museum at Beaulieu is holding an exhibition of cars and vehicles used in the 007 movies.

Marking 50 years of Bond films, Bond in Motion will run from tomorrow until December this year and will feature the Ford Mustang Mach 1 from Diamonds Are Forever, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II from The World Is Not Enough and the vintage 1962 Rolls-Royce from A View To A Kill.  

A personal favourite comes in the form of the Lotus Esprit S1 from The Spy Who Loved Me. Combining slick good looks and pinpoint lethality, the car — dubbed Wet Nellie — was as effective in the water as on land in helping Bond deal with adversaries.