Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe (KVB) has achieved a significant milestone in its Smart City KVB program with the inauguration of its new Porz electric bus depot on March 17, 2024. This depot, housing over 100 electric buses, represents a pivotal step towards the company’s goal of transitioning its entire bus fleet to alternative drive systems by 2030.

The first phase of the electric bus depot’s construction has been completed, coinciding with the conversion of several bus routes from diesel to electric operation (bus routes 160, 161, 162, 165 and 166). The launch ceremony saw the participation of State Transport Minister Oliver Krischer, KVB CEO Stefanie Haaks, City of Cologne Mobility Councillor Ascan Egerer, and District Mayor Sabine Stiller.

KVB electric bus depot in Porz launched

The KVB’s new electric bus depot is located on Kaiserstrasse in Cologne-Porz, not far from the DB stop “Porz Rheinland” and the KVB stop “Porz Markt”. The 63,000 square metre site – equivalent to around nine football pitches – is the heart of the former Dielektra site and has lain fallow for around 20 years. While Dielektra (originally Meirowsky AG, later Siemens) manufactured transformers and insulators for the electrical industry here, KVB is now bringing a new innovation to Porz. The depot is designed solely for the “accommodation” of e-buses.

In addition to the classic parking areas, the electric bus depot primarily comprises the charging infrastructure for electric buses, a workshop and a washing facility as well as a transport service building. Rheinische Netzgesellschaft (RNG) is also building a transformer station here.

KVB new electric bus depot, focus on chargers

KVB sister company RheinEnergie currently supplies the required alternating current via two 10 kV lines. This is registered in the transfer station and divided between the depot’s “own requirements” (workshop, transport service building, etc.) and the bus company’s charging infrastructure. In two transformer buildings, the 10 kV alternating current is transformed to 750 V, distributed to chargers and converted into direct current by these. The current flows are then distributed to the charging bonnets via cables along the traverses, whereby each charger can control two charging bonnets.

The e-buses are parked in the open air and are charged there via the charging infrastructure. Inspection, maintenance and repairs take place in the workshop. This building also houses the social rooms for the employees. The buses are cleaned externally in the neighbouring car wash.

The depot’s charging infrastructure, supplied by RheinEnergie, plays a central role in facilitating efficient charging processes for the electric buses. Drivers engage with the charging system via pantographs, ensuring seamless integration of buses into the charging network.

About subsidies and zero emission buses

KVB CEO Stefanie Haaks thanked the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for its commitment to the drive transition: “KVB is investing around 35 million euros in the new electric bus depot. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is contributing around 12.2 million euros of this. Without this support, we would not be able to manage the transition to alternative drive systems. Together, we are creating the basis for climate protection in the mobility sector”. Now the stop to federal subsidies for purchase of e-buses leave space for questions marks concerning the future development of energy transition in the country.

Haaks adds: “I expect the federal government to find a constructive solution and also that the next conference of transport ministers will push for an early solution. The transport companies need these subsidies to achieve the climate protection targets. Climate protection is an economic task and therefore cannot be shifted exclusively onto the companies.”

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