Written by your Webmaster, David Bradley
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|Trolleybus on Route 542
arriving at West Croydon Station
Virgin's G1 class bus introduced on route 542 in February 1999 pictured in Station Road, West Croydon.
Tramlink uses pantograph current collection and so the trolleybus overhead is 150mm higher than the contact wires of the
trams to prevent "shorting out" the twin trolleybus overhead.
This new class of trolleybus necessitated that the pavement was raised to the level of the floor of the trolleybus, buried cables guide each vehicle by induction to within 5cm of the kerb, enabling easy access for wheel chair passengers.
Virgin gained the 516/518 and 542 franchise in 1997 because they were prepared to revive the aborted extension to Crystal Palace from Thornton Heath. However the trolleybus infrastructure of support poles and overhead wiring, although in generally good condition, had reached the end of their safe service life and required complete refurbishment. A combination of Green Fuel Tax Credits and a EU Grant enabled this work to be put in hand immediately. The new overhead contains a fibre optic core to carry communications traffic that provides an array of passenger communication facilities at each bus stop and also low cost telecommunication services to properties within 50 metres of each bus stop.
Each bus stop now has visual display units showing a local map overlaid with the actual location of each trolleybuses serving that stop with its estimated time of arrival. Part of the screen also provides scrolling messages and advertisements.
The recent predestinisation of North End has re-routed the former tram routes via Station Road, Wellesley Road and George Street to re-join its former route to South Croydon Depot. The reverse direction uses Katherine Street instead of George Street. Central Croydon now has the only trolleybus / tram pantograph intersections in the UK.
The aging fleet of Z6's were replaced in January 1999 with articulated single decker low floor trolleybuses, designated class G1, of a proven design that will also be used in Virgin's franchise area in Liverpool.
[By coincidence, class G1 was the designated class for single deck vehicles in London which would
have served Alexandra Palace. They never got off the drawing board, but London's classifications did jump from F-H.] The
buses have a number of novel technical features, the most notable being computerised boom returning to the roof of the
trolleybus in the event of a dewirement. Manual placing of the booms back on the overhead by the driver is still
The distinctive grill on the front of the trolleybus sports an 'over specified' air condition unit that can drop the interior temperature down to 12°C, which can be quite cold for some passengers. The Multos Mass Transit Ticket less System [which has virtually eliminated fare evasion] sends real time accurate passenger statistics back to Virgin's Headquarters and Depot which was built on the site of the former Addiscombe Railway terminus. Here a new gas turbine generating system provides power supplies to Virgin's south London routes together with local district heating.
Each trolleybus has a Royal Mail Postbox, the contents of which are emptied each time it passes the main sorting office at East Croydon. The 5p surcharge on each letter represents particularly good value as most items processed are delivered the same day. Royal Mail subsidises the all night service on route 542 since many of the sorting office staff commute from along its route.
Will trolleybuses serve your locality in the future? Probably, and for the most up-to-date information visit the TBus site.
The advantages of electric vehicles coming your way are:
To you, the passenger:
Zero pollution emissions in the streets
Lowest possible noise levels
To the public generally:
Lowest possible emissions into the environment as a whole
Lowest possible consumption of non renewable resources
Lowest possible release of greenhouse gases like CO2
To the operator:
High mechanical reliability and efficiency
Long service life
No idling motor losses
Greater acceleration and hill climbing performance
Lower power costs
Lower maintenance costs