Go-Ahead has revealed that it is “in talks regarding what has the potential to be Europe’s biggest ever order of hydrogen buses for operation in Crawley and Gatwick.”
An order would be partly-funded by the Government, which has already committed £120m in grants towards the introduction of 4,000 zero-emission buses.
While a project partner has not been disclosed, it is thought that Wrightbus – the only UK manufacturer to currently offer a hydrogen bus – is the most likely supplier.
Wrightbus is owned by JCB heir Jo Bamford, who also created Oxford-based Ryse Hydrogen, which is building the UK’s first network of green hydrogen production plants, creating green jobs and supporting vital progress towards Net Zero.
The move is part of Go-Ahead’s commitment to have a ‘net zero’ bus fleet by 2035, which saw the launch this morning of a new fleet of electric buses in Newcastle and Gateshead.
Go-Ahead already runs the largest electric bus fleet in the UK, and it will rise to 190 with this latest investment. A 70 further electric buses will also enter service in London by April 2021.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As we look to decarbonise transport while levelling up local economies across the North-East, I’m delighted to see key industry partners actively supporting our ambitions to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050.
“Just last week the Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to invest £5bn in buses, cycling and walking.
“And that’s not all – we’re also investing £120 million to begin the introduction of at least 4,000 zero emission buses, accelerating the decarbonisation of the bus fleet, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality for all.”
Says Go-Ahead CEO David Brown: “COVID-19 has put an incredible strain on the country, the economy and public transport but tackling climate change remains as important as ever.
“The bus will be vital to getting Britain back on its feet, to bringing down emissions and tackling air pollution, which many experts believe has contributed to the severity of the virus we face.”
“Our investment in electric buses in the North East of England and our wider work in decarbonising our fleet signals our commitment to working with the Government to deliver their pledge to decarbonise transport and clean up the air that we breathe.”
Further reading: Wrightbus owner Jo Bamford sets out why hydrogen is the fuel of the future here
Podcast: Jo Bamford chats with former Transport for London MD Surface Transport Leon Daniels OBE about the creation of Ryse Hydrogen and a potential new model for vehicle procurement. Listen here [running time: 25 minutes]