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South East London ready for Britain’s first ‘tram on wheels’

South East London ready for Britain’s first ‘tram on wheels’

A fleet of fully electric ‘trambuses’ will enter service in south-east London within weeks, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said. The new buses, built by Spanish company Irizar, will be called ie trams and will operate on route 358, which links Orpington with Crystal Palace.

With a sleek exterior resembling a tram, the buses have large windows and covered wheels to better protect pedestrians and cyclists from being trapped and dragged. The vehicles were originally due to hit the streets last year, but the date has been repeatedly pushed back. The mayor has now said they will start operating later this summer, according to the South London Press.

Mr Khan’s office said: “The fully electric Route 358 ieTram buses are expected to enter service in summer 2024. It will be TfL’s first end-to-end ‘Opportunity Charging’ trial, and it is important to get the hardware right before the buses are introduced.”

The new buses can be charged in less than 10 minutes and have smaller batteries, resulting in less weight being driven per day.

The Irizar ie tram is an 18-metre articulated bus with the aesthetic characteristics of a tram. It was developed based on the idea that design contributes to the attractiveness of the service and to the development of citizen comfort.

The combination of the flexibility in terms of mobility of a city bus and the large capacity, easy access and spatial layout of a tram, with zero emissions, define the DNA of this new vehicle, says Irizar.

“The ie tram offers a design that starts with a minimalist aesthetic language, without ornamentation, with all its features responding to specific functional aspects, allowing it to create an identity and an image that are easily recognizable to its users. One of the most significant features of the design is the chrome border that flows around the body of the vehicle. It provides immediate identification and creates an appearance that is different from other similar vehicles. This border is an identifying feature associated with the brand.

“The chrome rim wraps around the large glass surface of the sides, which becomes a canvas on which the environment in which the vehicle travels is reflected. The front of the vehicle reflects fluidity and style and with a large glass surface it evokes the heritage of the tram, which together with the full LED optics integrated into the rims, creates a composite look that is avant-garde but at the same time technological and rational. The rear section, which breaks with the cubism of the bus, is our great aesthetic commitment. Care has been taken with the smallest details to achieve the aesthetics of the tram, for example the wheel trims and the exterior mirrors have been replaced by cameras that project their images on two displays in the interior of the vehicle on either side of the driver. The innovative, inspiring design of the Irizar ie tram breaks with the classic transport codes and enhances the charm of the city by reflecting the urban cultural diversity.”