Swiss city of Bern and ABB achieve new milestone with e-bus route

ABB technology helps BERNMOBIL towards its ambitious goals for carbon-neutral operations

A pioneering electric bus project in Switzerland’s capital, Bern, underlines the country’s position as a leader in e-mobility and sustainable transportation.

The buses on line 17 of BERNMOBIL’s network use the ‘opportunity charging’ or ‘OppCharge’ system to run solely with electric power, in the process saving 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. 

Nissan e.dams driver and ABB Formula E ambassador Sébastien Buemi in BERNMOBIL e-bus 17
Nissan e.dams driver and ABB Formula E ambassador Sébastien Buemi in BERNMOBIL e-bus 17

Thanks to ABB’s charging stations and drive technology, BERNMOBIL’s five e-buses, which entered service last December, are able to run from Bern’s main train station without overhead power lines, needing only a single charge at their final stop – Köniz Weiermatt. Each charge takes around five minutes, during which a pantograph descends from the charging station, connects to rails on the bus roof and charges the battery with 450 kW. In addition, the vehicles receive a 50kW overnight charge in their depot.

Robert Itschner, Country Managing Director, ABB Switzerland, said “ABB has already made many innovations and initiatives in electromobility possible with its solutions, in Switzerland and across the world. We are proud to contribute to another pioneering project that represents a new milestone in the development of electromobility in our country. We are particularly pleased that it has been introduced in Bern, where the ABB Formula E Swiss E-Prix will be held this week.”

Bern’s OppCharge buses will operate for a four-year trial period where they have replaced the non-electric vehicles previously used. The new lighTram19OPP electric articulated models, built by Swiss vehicle manufacturer, HESS, are developed from an existing trolley bus design and each uses two ABB electric motors and a traction converter, developed at ABB’s Turgi factory.

ABB’s charging station OppCharge
ABB’s charging station OppCharge

Meanwhile, the associated charging infrastructure is supplied by ABB and networked via the ABB Ability™ digital platform, allowing charging operations to be monitored and controlled remotely.

Even without fast charging, the buses’ battery capacity is sufficient to allow them to cover their route three times – a range of approximately 35-40km.

It is anticipated that the pilot scheme will be extended and further OppCharge lines added to BERNMOBIL’s network, as the company’s director, René Schmied confirms: “The pilot scheme on line 17 is only the first step. We have a very ambitious vision – we want to be CO2 -neutral by 2040 and from 2025 purchase only electric buses.”

A further benefit of the Bern OppCharge buses is that they run on hydro-electricity, giving the city’s 150,000 residents the chance to use fully sustainable urban transport every day.

ABB talks with Swiss pioneers, Rene Schmied, Director of BERNMOBIL:

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