Euskotren adds an electric bus to the Larreineta-La Arboleda service
As announced at the start of the year, the Basque Government’s Ministry of Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport and Euskotren are driving sustainable mobility along the Trapagaran-La Arboleda section, with the focus on the Larreineta Funicular Railway. They are therefore working closely with the Bizkaia Provincial Council’s Department of Transport and Sustainability and Trapagaran Council.
Today, Tuesday 5 July, Euskotren has added a Solaris Urbino Electric 8.9 LE bus to the existing service between the upper station of the Larreineta Funicular Railway and La Arboleda. This action is one of the goals set by the Basque Government and Euskotren, with the support of Bizkaia Provincial Council’s Department of Transport and Sustainable Mobility, to drive sustainable mobility in this area in Trapagaran municipal district (Bizkaia). Euskotren here manages the Funicular service and the shuttle bus between the upper station and La Arboleda.
Characteristics of the first Euskotren electric bus
Precisely in the year that Euskotren is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a publicly-owned company of the Basque Government, the transport operator has marked a new milestone with the launch of the first e-bus of its road fleet. The bus will operate in Larreineta (Trapagaran, in Bizkaia).
It is a Solaris Urbino Electric 8.9 LE, manufactured by Solaris, a company belonging to the CAF Group, which has involved an investment of €445,000 (VAT not included).
The Solaris Urbino electric 8.9 LE (8.9 metres long and 2.4 metres wide) facilitates optimum manoeuvrability. All the Urbino Low Entry vehicles combine the advantages of low-floor and high-floor buses. The floor in the front and centre of the bus provides easy access for the users, while the high floor in the back means that a larger number of seats can be fitted. This bus does not have a step to access either of the two doors and the door handles are 320 mm off the pavement.
It has two doors (single front door and double back door). The bus is adapted to be used for people with reduced mobility (PRM), as it has a double Hübner ramp (manual + electric) in the central door, and the doors are fitted with kneeling and lifting mechanisms. The vehicle has 2 spaces reserved for PRM with wheelchairs. Each space is located on one side of the bus.
The Urbino buses are fitted with the kneeling function to reduce the entry height to approximately 70 mm.
The Solaris Urbino Electric 8.9 LE can carry between 53 and 61 passengers (21 of them seated), depending on the occupancy level of the spaces reserved for PRM on each journey.
As it is an electric vehicle, it is extremely quiet, is free of emissions and guarantees lower operating costs. This type of bus can operate for long periods each day, depending on the battery and charging system set-up. It is also fitted with cold-heat climate control.
The vehicle has EBS (electronic brake system), with anti-blocking system (ABS), traction control, and anti-slip regulation (ASR), automatic braking distribution and brake pad wear indicator. It is also fitted with MirrorEye cameras and screens, instead of conventional mirrors. This improves safety for the driving staff, the bus service passengers and other road users. Furthermore, it has an automatic fire extinguisher system.
Boosting sustainable mobility
As part of the partnership in place, the three public institutions have worked together on setting up a permanent exhibition at the Euskotren premises at the Larreineta Funicular Railway and which showcases the history of that means of transport and the mining in the valley. The exhibition was opened on 13 April 2022 and features the original Larreineta funicular car, which has been refurbished by the Basque Railway Museum, which is also managed by Euskotren.
Along with Bizkaia Provincial Council (Department of Transport and Sustainable Mobility), the Basque Government and Euskotren have also been working on turning the Trapagaran-La Arboleda section into a zero-emission sustainable transport vector. This will give impetus to a large decarbonised, sustainable and emissions free area, between La Escontrilla and La Arboleda, with Euskotren providing the multimodal transport (train, tramway, underground, funicular and bus).
The Larreineta Funicular Railway was opened on 25 September 1926. For more than 95 years, the Funicular was used to take the workers up to the mine and to transport the iron ore from La Arboleda mining operation to the factories. Furthermore, Decree 150/2014, of 15 July, awarded the funicular railway Cultural Asset status, with the category of Site of Cultural Importance. The Trapagaran Valley (La Arboleda) was a hive of industrial development thanks to its mining activity and was an important centre in the advancement of the workers’ movement.
In addition to the introduction of the electric bus to the existing service between Larreineta and La Arboleda, bike repair and maintenance points have also been set up at both of the Funicular stations (Larreineta and La Escontrilla), supplied with water, electricity and tools) as part of the partnership project involving the Basque Government and Euskotren with Bizkaia Provincial Council’s Department of Transport and Sustainable Mobility.