Eco-friendly urban mobility: new electric Bus Rapid Transport System for IMC® buses in Italy’s top vacation city, Rimini

  • New e-BRT system (Electric Bus Rapid Transit) between Rimini and Riccione launches regular passenger service based on IMC® bus fleet
  • Consortium consisting of Kiepe Electric and Van Hool supplies nine zero-emission, 18-meter buses fitted with IMC® technology

Yet another of Europe’s best-known destinations for vacationers, the Italian seaside resort of Rimini, is now offering locals and tourists alike a new, eco-friendly mass transit option in the form of IMC® buses. The new e-BRT system (Electric Bus Rapid Transit) runs on battery-powered buses featuring In Motion Charging (IMC®) technology from Kiepe Electric, a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse AG, global market leader for braking systems and other rail and commercial vehicle systems.

Already an integral part of Italy’s local mass transit network, IMC® technology from Kiepe Electric has now arrived in Rimini. | © Kiepe Electric/Calogero Taibi

A consortium consisting of Kiepe Electric and Van Hool – the Belgian bus and commercial vehicle manufacturer – has delivered new, zero-emission Exqui.City 18-meter IMC® buses with traction batteries to Patrimonio Mobilità Provincia di Rimini P.M.R. s.r.l. consortile. The e-BRT system will be operated by START Romagna SpA. One after the other, starting in late summer 2021, the fleet buses have been put into service on Rimini’s new Metromare rapid coastal transport (TRC) express line. Thanks to the built-in IMC® technology, the buses have unlimited range, while their onboard A/C systems ensure that in-vehicle temperatures remain pleasantly comfortable.

“The Italian bus market is a fast-moving one, and we’re proud that our IMC® technologies are making such an important contribution to reliable, eco-friendly urban mobility in this beautiful region,” comments Dr. Peter Radina, Member of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems. “The commissioning of this new rapid-transit bus system sets a genuine benchmark for forward-looking local mass transit in Italy and beyond,” he added.

Alexander Ketterl, Managing Director of Kiepe Electric GmbH in Düsseldorf, describes the predilection for IMC® technology in Italy and Rimini in particular: “Many Italian cities are investing in new IMC® routes and buses so they can provide residents and tourists alike with fast, comfortable, sustainable local transportation services. Our IMC® concept has proved itself in Italy’s mass transit market, which is why Kiepe Electric leads the way in equipping Italian trolleybuses.”

Sustainable and efficient transportation concept

The aim of the new e-BRT system and articulated IMC500 buses is to provide a fast, air-conditioned mode of passenger transportation that interfaces with other mobility options such as cars, bicycles or e-scooters. A ten-kilometer bus route connects the cities of Rimini and Riccione without interfering with other forms of traffic. Traveling at speeds of up to 70 km/h, the IMC® buses run along a dedicated roadway equipped with overhead contact lines; the service has cut the travel time between the two coastal towns to just 23 minutes. The roadway’s space-saving configuration is an interesting harbinger of similar projects in the future. Thanks to a sophisticated signaling system, around half of the route is laid out as a single track on a roadway reserved exclusively for the buses; the bus stops are fitted with twin tracks. But electric buses fitted with IMC® technology are not confined to BRT high-speed roadways – they can also operate without overhead contact lines.

Battery-powered buses that operate reliably

The 18-meter-long articulated vehicles are powered by two central motors. Kiepe Electric supplies not only the entire electric driveline and onboard power supply, but also the traction batteries and power collector. The batteries are designed in such a way that even if one of the three substations were to fail, traffic would continue to flow smoothly, ensuring a very high level of reliability in operation.


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Julian Ebert Technology & Product Communication Rail Vehicle Systems (RVS)