Go-Ahead pursuing ‘Europe’s largest order for hydrogen buses’

Go-Ahead Group hydrogen bus trial

Go-Ahead Group is in discussions over “what has the potential to be Europe’s biggest ever order for hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses.” If completed, it will see up to 52 such vehicles delivered to its Metrobus subsidiary for use on routes in Crawley and to Gatwick Airport.

Of those, 20 single-deckers were confirmed in 2019 thanks to a £4.36m award from the Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme and £2.9m from the European Union’s JIVE2 project. A spokesperson adds that Go-Ahead is now talking to project partners “to solidly establish funding models and timeframes that will meet everyone’s objectives, with the potential to introduce as many as 52 hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses in Sussex and Surrey.”

While those will be for Metrobus services, the spokesperson adds that conversations are underway with partners in respect to Brighton and Hove Buses, “where we see similar opportunities for the advantages of hydrogen to be realised.” A Wrightbus StreetDeck FCEV was demonstrated at both operators in summer 2020.

Go-Ahead hydrogen bus plans fit 2035 zero-emission aspiration

News of advancing interest from Go-Ahead in hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses came while it revealed that it is working towards an entirely zero-emission bus fleet by 2035. That aspiration “is dependent on the government as well,” adds the spokesperson.

The announcement makes Go-Ahead the third of the ‘big five’ groups to outline plans to transition to an entirely zero-emission fleet. National Express hopes to have done so for its bus operations by 2030. First Bus has made a firm commitment to achieving the same by 2035.

Go-Ahead hydrogen bus trial with Metrobus
Go-Ahead subsidiaries Metrobus and Brighton and Hove Buses saw a week-long trial of a Wrightbus StreetDeck FCEV double-decker in 2020

Brighton and Hove Buses and Metrobus have already set a target of 2030 to be entirely zero-emission.

During 2019 and 2020 the south coast operator placed 54 Alexander Dennis Enviro400ER diesel-electric hybrids into service.

The ‘electric range’ model has a 32kW/h energy storage system that the manufacturer says delivers a three-mile zero-emission range.

Group also recognised for its carbon emissions reductions

In a further fillip for the Go-Ahead’s environmental credentials, it has been awarded an A- rating by the Carbon Disclosure Project for its work to reduce carbon emissions. Such accreditation makes it the foremost UK transport operator in that regard.

Since 2016 Go-Ahead has achieved a 22% absolute reduction in group-wide carbon emissions. That is despite significant growth into new markets in the meantime, both in the UK and overseas.

All Go-Ahead’s UK premises are powered by zero-carbon electricity from renewable sources. Go-Ahead London’s Northumberland Park garage is now Europe’s largest point for overnight charging of battery-electric buses, and it will become a ‘virtual power station’ by feeding energy back into the grid.