London buys hydrogen-fuelled red buses

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LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) London's mayor said today he had signed a 20.7 million dollars deal for ten hydrogen-powered buses to help reduce pollution and CO2 emissions in the UK capital.

Five of the traditional red buses, to be built by US manufacturer ISE Corp, will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and five will burn hydrogen in conventional internal combustion engines.

''London is now the first city in Europe to commit to a hydrogen bus fleet of this size, which will match traditional diesel buses in terms of performance,'' London Mayor Ken Livingstone said.

''This represents a huge step forward from the previous hydrogen trials in the capital and is an important step towards my target of having five per cent of all public sector fleet vehicles powered by hydrogen by 2015,'' he added.

Mike Weston, Operations Director for London Buses, told Reuters the diesel buses they would replace would normally cost around 130,000 pounds each, but the hydrogen buses produced no emissions beyond water vapour and were worth the extra cost.

The hydrogen vehicle industry needs an initial commitment from cities like London to help drive down costs in future, he added.

The buses will be operated by FirstGroup and join a fleet of 8,000 in London, many of which are diesel hybrids.

REUTERS SKB BD1630

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