National Express Group sets out a zero-emission vision

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The National Express Group has outlined its vision to become the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company, setting an ambitious target for a transition to electric coaches

“We will not buy another diesel bus for our UK operations”, National Express has announced, and that it plans to ‘lead the transition to zero-emission coaches, with a target for the first electric coaches to be in service next year.’
The operator has said that it has an ambition that its UK coach and UK bus fleets will be fully zero-emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively.

National Express Group (NX) said that it recognises the importance of operators playing their role in delivering public policy ambitions, following the recent government announcement of a £5bn bus fund, the pro-public transport policies of the Mayor of the West Midlands and the vision set out in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan, which all show there is a desire for leadership and change.

The Group says it will shortly launch a procurement competition to choose the manufacturers and partners to help achieve these ambitions. During 2020, the operator says it will:

    • Place a major order for electric buses to add to its first zero-emission vehicles which will shortly enter service in the West Midlands;
    • Hold an in-service trial of an electric coach on the Stansted Airport service; and
    • Select partners to develop a zero-emission vehicle suitable for all long-distance coach routes.

NX says it will also look to apply this philosophy to its overseas businesses and set equally ambitious objectives.

Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said: “Coach and bus travel is already one of the greenest ways to get around, with each bus removing up to 75 cars from the road. National Express has already invested in clean coaches and buses and kept fares low to support a shift from private cars to mass transit. Working through our West Midlands Bus Alliance we have achieved the fastest passenger growth of any major city-region in the country, demonstrating its success.

The first of 29 new BYD ADL Enviro400EVs for National Express West Midlands commenced delivery late last week. E001-19 are for Yardley Wood depot, whilst E020-29 are on order for Coventry. E004 is seen departing ADL Falkirk on its delivery run last Friday. GORDON SCOTT

“However we understand the imperative to go much further, so we are today setting out an ambition to be the first zero-emission transport group in the UK. Our decision to never again buy a diesel bus in the UK coupled with our support in leading the zero-emission transition in coach will place our UK operations at the forefront of efforts to tackle climate change and poor air quality. We simply believe this is the right thing to do for our customers, the communities we serve and our stakeholders.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, added: “Working in partnership with National Express in the last three years we have managed to deliver an increase in passengers, brand-new buses, and fare freezes. Now I am delighted to be working with the company again to help tackle the region’s climate emergency. Air pollution is a major contributor to climate change in the West Midlands, and we need to make sure people across the region are being presented with clean, viable alternatives to the car.

“National Express has already done a brilliant job of upgrading its buses while keeping prices low, and the West Midlands Combined Authority and I will do all I can to support them to reach their zero-carbon pledge by 2030.”

Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, commented: “This is absolutely fantastic news for Birmingham and the West Midlands. As our draft Transport Plan sets out, we need bold leadership to meet the challenges cities like Birmingham face. At the heart of this is the need to encourage more people to switch to a cleaner and greener public transport network. With today’s announcement, National Express has shown bold leadership. I look forward to continuing to work closely with them as we make Birmingham the most progressive public transport city in the country.”