Hydrogen shortage takes Mersey buses off the road

Global hydrogen shortage takes Liverpool city region hydrogen buses off the road but talks with a new supplier may soon see them back in service. Tony McDonough reports

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One of the new Liverpool city region hydrogen buses in St Helens


Just three months after Liverpool city region’s 20-strong fleet of hydrogen business came into service they are now off the road due to a global shortage of hydrogen.

As part of a major policy initiative by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram the buses were purchased by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority for £12.5m.

Operated by Arriva and Stagecoach on the 10A route between St Helens and Liverpool city centre.hey began carrying passengers in May. The vehicles, made by Alexander Dennis, were filled up at a depot in St Helens.

Traditionally buses are powered by diesel fuel, a major source of air pollution in towns and cities. These buses emit only water vapour and so are better for the air that we breathe.

However, they cannot yet claim to be net zero as the hydrogen used to fuel them is produced using fossil fuels. The aim is to eventually use so-called green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy, when it becomes more widely available.

Over the weekend the Liverpool ECHO reported the buses were currently not in service due to the lack of availability of hydrogen.

In a statement the Combined Authority said: “While the introduction of any major transport infrastructure on this scale will take time to implement, recent global events outside of the Combined Authority’s control have meant that the global supply of hydrogen fuel has been temporarily impacted.

“Delivering the first-class bus service that residents deserve remains a number one priority for Mayor Rotheram.”


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Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram with one of his new hydrogen buses


According to the Combined Authority, bus operator Arriva was in advanced talks with a “leading global hydrogen supplier” to resume a supply of hydrogen. It is also looking to secure a “future pathway to 100% sustainable green hydrogen”.

READ MORE: St Helens gets go-ahead for compulsory purchases

The statement also said: “The rollout of our publicly-owned hydrogen buses will service the busy 10A route, immediately improving air quality along one of the most congested bus routes in the city region.

“These zero emission vehicles are among the most sophisticated and accessible anywhere in the country and, along with the region’s new publicly owned trains, are a statement of intent for Mayor Rotheram’s wider vision to build a London-style integrated public transport network that’s faster, cheaper, cleaner and better connected.”

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