UK's largest public transport operator National Express to go full electric by 2035

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 28 Feb 2020

National Express Group, a leading public transport operator with bus, coach and rail services in the UK, North America, continental Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, with a fleet of over 31,500 vehicles, which facilitates nearly 940 million journeys through its services each year has announced that its UK services will see all buses and coach fleets to be zero-emission from 2030 and 2035 respectively.

The company says its new vision follows the sustained investment in Euro VI vehicles, way ahead of Clean Air Zone and Ultra Low Emission Zone requirements. National Express Group has also been one of the first transport companies to adopt the inter-governmental panel on Climate Change’s methodology for setting its carbon reduction targets.

The firm says it recognises the importance of operators playing their role in delivering public policy ambitions. The recent government announcement of a £5 billion (Rs 46,449 crore) bus fund, the pro-public transport policies of the Mayor of the West Midlands and the ambitious vision set out in the draft Birmingham Transport Plan point towards the need for leadership and change. National Express Group says it is determined to be part of that change and to demonstrate that leadership.

National Express Group electric bus

As part of its plans National Express Group will shortly launch a procurement competition to shortlist OEMs and partners that will help it to achieve these ambitions. As part of the plan, this year National Express Group will place a major order for electric buses to add 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; Select partners to develop a zero-emission vehicle suitable for all long-distance coach routes.

With a significant portion of its operations based overseas, National Express Group says it will also look to apply this leadership to these businesses shortly and set equally ambitious objectives.

Dean Finch, chief executive, National Express Group said: "Bus and Coach 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 buses and coaches 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."

“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, West Midlands said: “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 have already done a brilliant job of upgrading their 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, said: “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.”