For the first time, bus company Winzenhöler GmbH & Co. KG will deploy a fuel cell bus in regular local public transport on the bus routes 671 and X71 of the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV – the transport network of the Rhine-Main metropolitan area) near Darmstadt.

The fuel cell bus provided for RMV operation is one of a total of eight fuel cell buses from bus operator Christian Winzenhöler. Its fleet of hydrogen-operated fuel cell buses is currently the largest in Germany. The 12 metre-long vehicles are Mercedes-Benz Citaro fuel cell buses. Four of the buses from a Hamburg HOCHBAHN project have only recently been acquired.

Practical trial on the 671 route between Darmstadt and Babenhausen

The Winzenhöler bus company has already been using fuel cell buses commissioned by Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG on the industrial park premises in Frankfurt-Höchst since October 2017. Now Winzenhöler wishes to take the next step towards emission-free local transport, using fuel cells in local public transport for the first time on an RMV route. The fuel cell bus will operate on the RMV 671 line between the main station in Darmstadt and Wiebelsbach/Babenhausen, which lies around 20 kilometres to the east of the city. The route is characterized by its challenging topography and a motorway-like section on the no.26 federal highway. Thus it is ideally suited for discovering whether the positives experiences gathered at the business premises can be adapted with regard to stability and availability, also for regional overland transport.

Hydrogen fuel stops in Frankfurt-Höchst

Initially the fuel cell bus will only be deployed during peak times in the morning and afternoon on the 671 line. This is because of the hydrogen infrastructure, which is still in development. Currently the only publicly accessible 350 bar hydrogen refuelling station for buses is located within the Rhine-Main area in Frankfurt-Höchst. The fuel cell bus will be refuelled here at midday and at the end of the service day. As the refuelling process is comparably as quick as is the case with a diesel bus, fuel cell buses have advantages in terms of operational logistics when compared to equally emission free, pure battery-electric buses.