National Express launches zero-emission future
Posted: 14 July 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
National Express has committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2030, and a zero-emission white coach fleet by 2035.
National Express West Midlands has announced that it is moving forward on its promise never to buy another diesel bus with the company’s first fully electric double decker bus now in operation. Bus number E008 “Laura” was followed by 19 of the other electric buses based in Birmingham – and 10 more are arriving from Scottish manufacturer Alexander Dennis to National Express Coventry and will be out in service this autumn.
Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express UK, said: “At National Express, zero-emission is not the future – it’s the here-and-now. Earlier this year, we announced that National Express had bought its last diesel.
“Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel. For four years, we have been working as part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance to tackle climate change and improve air quality. We have retrofitted nearly a thousand older buses with new exhaust systems, and since 2015, we’ve bought only the cleanest diesels on the market.
“And now we’ve gone all out with these beautiful buses which are fully electric – even the heaters run off the battery. They cost more than a Rolls Royce Phantom, and as well as being great for the environment, they come with all the top-spec kit our customers expect from a Platinum bus – extra space, USB chargers and free Wi-Fi.
“We’re very proud that National Express is bringing fully electric buses to the people of the West Midlands. I’d like to thank all the drivers, trainers, engineers and managers who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make this happen.”
Drivers are specially trained to drive the electric buses due to the difference in behaviour from combustion engine-driven buses and they are required to drive to preserve the charge for as long as possible and extend the range. Engineers too have been trained in a new kind of maintenance.
National Express’ 80-year-old Yardley Wood garage has also been retrofitted with a charging station for each vehicle and a system so engineers can monitor performance from screens in the depot or their laptops. The buses charge up in four hours, and can run for 190 kilometres before needing another charge.
National Express West Midlands was awarded £3 million by the government in 2016 to help fund the extra cost of an electric bus and the necessary equipment, and the bus company has invested £11 million in the project.
Birmingham City Councillor Waseem Zaffar, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: “These vehicles produce zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe and are powered by renewable energy. This is a significant step towards cleaner air in Birmingham and achieving a net-zero carbon by 2030. It’s a privilege and a pleasure to see them in operation and I welcome the addition of more electric buses on more routes in the future.”