Dozens of hydrogen buses set to serve Gatwick Airport routes
The Go-Ahead Group is set to add 20 hydrogen-powered buses to routes serving Gatwick Airport and the surrounding areas.
It will also install the UK’s first liquid hydrogen refueling station for buses to serve the buses, at its bus depot in Crawley. The station will store hydrogen in liquid form before converting it to gas held in tanks on the roof of the buses.
Air Products is supporting Go-Ahead with the refuelling infrastructure. Once it reaches full capacity, it will be capable of refuelling up to 100 buses a day.
The 20 single-decker fuel cell buses have been ordered from Wrightbus and will be added to routes across Crawley and Horley in the coming weeks. These routes are run by MetroBus as an operating company of Go-Ahead.
A further 34 of the same vehicles will then be rolled out across Go-Ahead bus routes in south east England over the next 18 months.
Delivering the buses and the refuelling infrastructure has required an investment of around £30m. Some £4.3m of this funding has been provided by the UK Government under the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, while the private sector and local authorities have collaborated to cover the remaining investment needs.
“We’re already the leading operator of electric buses in Britain and we believe hydrogen is a further piece in the jigsaw of decarbonising public transport – to the benefit of the environment and local communities,” said Go-Ahead Group’s chief executive Christian Schreyer.
Two years ago, Go-Ahead Group launched a new climate strategy headlined by commitments to cut emissions by 75% by 2035 and bring them to net-zero by 2045.
This strategy included a commitment to replace all buses with zero-emission alternatives by 2035.
The new buses also contribute to Gatwick Airport’s sustainability progress. The Airport contributed financially to the project, as it works to ensure that half of passenger and staff journeys to and from the airport are made using public or active transport.
Green bus plan
Earlier this week, the IPPR think-tank called on the Government to bring forward plans to rapidly deploy zero-emission buses outside of London. It argued that doing so is crucial to the delivery of the Government’s climate commitments and its levelling up pledges.
IPPR believes that only 87 zero-emission buses are currently in use in England outside of London. It is arguing the case for a further 5,800 to be deployed this decade. This would require government investment of £2.5bn but the private sector would also need to invest significantly. The IPPR has described the necessary public investment as “modest”.
The addition of these buses would reduce emissions from cars and buses by 18%, the IPPR has calculated. It could also benefit many of the regions identified by the Government as being most in need of levelling up support.
In a statement, the IPPR said: “While more than 4,000 bus services have been lost in England in the last decade, only London and the South East have not seen a decline in the number of miles travelled by buses between 2004/5 and 2019/20.
“Regions such as the North East and North West have seen miles travelled by buses drop by almost 30% and with it, greater social isolation and less access to economic opportunities or cultural and social activities.”
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