A New Era for Public Transport

16 December 2020 

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Transport Minister Rachel Maclean have welcomed the first hydrogen powered double decker buses entering service in Northern Ireland. 

The arrival of the three new Hydrogen Fuel Cell Buses is the culmination of an exciting zero emissions bus pilot project powered by “Green” renewably produced Hydrogen. The buses, emit only water and will be 100% powered by green renewable wind energy, responding to the global climate emergency by reducing air pollution and protecting public health.   

Translink together with the Energia Group formed a consortium which successfully bid for part funding from the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) with the remainder of funding from the Department for Infrastructure.  The overall capital investment represents around £4 million. 

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “I am delighted to see these new buses enter service.  They will be transformative for communities here as we seek to deliver more sustainable low carbon public transport. 

“I have been clear that tackling the climate crisis is a priority for me and I am committed to a building a better future where we make zero/low emission public transport accessible to communities across the North. My Department recently allocated funding of almost £66million for the purchase of 145 zero and low emission buses that will enter the Translink fleet during 2021/22. 

“The entry into service of the three new Hydrogen powered buses, funded by my Department and OZEV, is another exciting milestone in our move towards a zero-emission public transport fleet. This is just the beginning and I am committed to delivering cleaner, greener transport for the benefit of our environment and our communities right across Ireland.” 

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean said:  “As we look to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050, the whole transport sector will need to embrace new innovative technology such as green hydrogen and this project is a fantastic example of doing just that. 

“I’m proud to see the UK leading the way when it comes to the global transition to zero-emission vehicles. In the next decade, we’ll continue to be at the forefront of the design, manufacture and use of them too as we strive towards our net-zero goals.” 

Chris Conway, Group Chief Executive, Translink said:  “This is great news for our customers and the wider public as we make real progress to tackle the climate emergency, enhance air quality for health and wellbeing and reduce traffic congestion.   

 “We’re committed to leading a transport transformation in Northern Ireland, driving change to zero emissions and engaging across all industry sectors to learn from best practice in low carbon innovation and bus manufacturing.   

“Today is the result of a successful collaboration and we’d like to thank all our partners for vital investment, expertise and innovation to deliver this project. Locally, 35% of all energy is expended on transport and, as today demonstrates, we believe modal shift from car to sustainable transport can be accelerated with the right investment.  

“We now look forward to achieving further important milestones on our journey to Net Zero Emissions public transport and securing a brighter future for generations to come.” 

Energia Group Chief Executive Ian Thom said: “Energia Group is proud to be partnering with Translink on this innovative and pioneering project, which will directly reduce emissions in Belfast. We are working to power the double decker buses with renewable hydrogen and we will also be installing the first hydrogen fuelling station on the island of Ireland early next year. 

“Power NI is part of the Energia Group and we are developing a number of solutions which will help facilitate the transition of all segments of the transport sector.  We believe renewable hydrogen production and hydrogen fuel-cell public transport have a critical role to play to facilitate zero emission vehicles, achieving climate change goals and air quality standards on our streets.” 

Wrightbus Chairman Jo Bamford said: “We are incredibly proud to supply the first-ever hydrogen-powered double decker buses in Ireland, and we’re just as proud to be building them locally in Ballymena. 

“These world-leading Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles are a major step to improving air quality and meeting Northern Ireland’s net zero commitment, as well as helping to revolutionise its public transport system and boosting the local economy. 

“We’re delighted that Translink and the Northern Ireland Executive have backed not only this initiative in Belfast, but have also made a wider investment into public transport by agreeing to introduce 100 zero emission buses on the streets across Northern Ireland. 

“It’s proof that Northern Ireland is pushing to be at the forefront of the world stage when it comes to pioneering zero emission solutions.” 

The three new Hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will operate on Translink Metro services across Belfast.  

Ends