Paris studying trolleybuses (Ville Rail Transports – in English)

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The Fédération Nationale des Associations d’Usagers des Transports (FNAUT) Île-de-France, the greater Paris Association of Transport Users, has written a letter to Valérie Pécresse, President of the Regional Council of Île-de-France, requesting a study into the conversion of Paris’ busiest bus lines to trolleybus. The Association stated that “no technical resolution appears ideal” ‎for the replacement of diesel buses.

Electric buses, which could represent 80% of the fleet in 2025, still introduce “high costs”, for reliability that has not yet been demonstrated, with relatively limited range. In additional these vehicles “do not appear to be capable of accepting air conditioning”.
LNG buses, which could comprise the rest of the 2025 fleet, pose “significant challenges for the safe storage of the fuel in an urban zone”. As a result, FNAUT Île-de-France believes that it is “relevant to study the possibility of converting some of the busiest bus lines to trolleybus, in particular those lines operating articulated, or even bi-articulated vehicles in the future”.

Also in the letter, the Association recalls that the trolleybus is a proven solution and that the French cities that have kept them are ‘very satisfied’ with them. In the forefront of these networks (which are not named in the letter) is Lyon, where the trolleybus provides both high-capacity lines and the small line S6 on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse.

The fact remains that the trolley has become rare in France and that the insertion of overhead line equipment (OHLE) in the urban landscape can represent a mental aesthetic obstacle for decision makers. Addressing this point, the FNAUT Île-de-France insists that this insertion “can be discreet… with the possibility, if necessary, of going through certain battery sections in sensitive areas”. The German supplier Kiepe Electric has recently developed the In Motion Charging solution (IMC) and the discreet OHLE question, the French world champion: SM-CI, located in the Grenoble region, with its Malico range.

In short, the trolleybus remains a new idea in Île-de-France (where it provided a short-lived service from 1943 to 1966), and the FNAUT Île-de-France calls for a study which “investment and operation” of the trolleybus, as well as “determination of priority lines” and “estimation of implementation timeframes”.

Neither aesthetics nor ‘glamour’ question innovation, the trolleybus has never been seriously taken into account for the replacement of diesel buses in Île-de-France. Yet this well-known variant of the electric bus presents a much lower technological risk than the various models of battery bus tested or still to be tested. Although it is unlikely to be implemented immediately, the study commissioned by FNAUT Île-de-France would at least have the merit of providing a ‘Plan B’ in case Plan 2025 is more difficult to implement than expected.

Original French article, partially paywalled

Written by Long Branch Mike