De Lijn preps Genk depot with chargers for e-buses

De Lijn’s depot in Genk-Winterslag is currently being equipped with charging stations for electric buses. Public transport company De Lijn has started preparational works to install superchargers. About 20 parking places for buses will be equipped with charging points.

De Lijn has an ambitious plan to offer its customers 100% emission-free public transport as of 2035. Flanders will get 60 electric buses this year from bus manufacturer Van Hool. In the long term, charging facilities for about 2 100 buses must be created in more than 50 depots.

To manage these, De Lijn opted for the PSI eBus charging and depot management system from the German PSI Transcom. At the end of each day, PSI Transcom’s software determines which task a vehicle will receive the following day. This driving order enables the system to direct each electric bus to the correct parking position so that it can leave the depot in the right order the next morning.

Assignment of tasks

At some of the company’s larger depots, sometimes more than 100 electric buses have to be charged. And with the peaking electricity prices since last year, it is crucial to optimize the charging process.

Twenty of these buses are destined for Winterslag and will arrive by the end of the year to be operational as of January 2024. So the Winterslag depot should be fully operational by the beginning of 2024 as well.

The 20 new buses will replace the ‘old’ existing fleet of 45 standard buses and four articulated buses. “By 2027, Flanders will have 1 375 electric buses operational,” explains Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld). “And by the same date, 29 depots should be equipped with the necessary charging infrastructure.”

‘Greening operation’

Once fully charged, the new e-buses will have a 250 kilometers range (on cold days), which is more than enough for one day of city rides.

The ‘greening’ operation will take place in several phases. Last month, the works in Winterslag were started. It’s the first depot to be fully transformed for electric charging. Another 140 depots will follow. Meanwhile, works have also started in the depots of Destelbergen, Courtrai, and Sint-Niklaas.

No emissions at all

In the next phase, bus drivers must get used to the new e-buses. However, the new buses will be more comfortable, and the look and feel will be different for drivers and passengers as well. Traveling by e-bus will be far more relaxed, with less noise and vibrations and no emissions at all.

For De Lijn, the works are a revolutionary step toward sustainability. Until now, the company was lagging behind concerning electrification, with ‘only’ 13 electric buses for a fleet of 2 000 vehicles. Apart from some pilot projects in Antwerp, Ghent, and Louvain, De Lijn mainly relied on its existing diesel fleet.

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