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100% electric public transport from Bristol to London? Only the bus will get you there

Simon Calder’s Travel

Coaches are now ahead of trains in one crucial respect: all electric-travel between Bristol and London.

FlixBus has run its first electric coach service between the two cities. The 8.30am departure from Bristol arrived at Victoria Coach Station in London in three hours, 10 minutes – with one-third of its battery capacity still remaining.

Andreas Schorling, managing director of FlixBus UK said: “This is a huge step forward for the UK coach sector, transforming the already low-carbon mode of transport to zero-emission at the tailpipe through innovative technology.

“We’re sending a powerful message about our continued commitment to bring even more sustainable travel options for the public, and our determination to drive forward the change needed to reduce the impact on the climate.”

The Chinese-built Yutong bus is on a three-month trial. While it is marketed by FlixBus, the operator is Newport Transport in South Wales.

David Jenkins, interim managing director for the firm, said: “Newport Transport has been leading the way in bringing electric vehicles to our network of local bus services in south east Wales and into England and bringing this electric vehicle to the intercity coach market is the next big step.”

For the initial run from central Bristol via the University of the West of England campus to Hammersmith and central London, 33 of the 46 seats were occupied.

Passenger James Cheung, an aerospace engineering student from Bristol, said: “I think it’s brilliant – a great way to travel between Bristol and London.

“It’s very pleasant, very quiet, smooth, and reliable. I’d like to think this is the future, with new technologies and batteries constantly improving – replacing the old diesel infrastructure that we have.”

The company claims the vehicle will save 352kg of carbon emissions per day driven compared with the average diesel-fuelled coach.

Using fast-charge facilities in Newport and at a Transport UK depot in Battersea, south London, the battery can be replenished in 90 minutes.

The UK’s first electric coach service was launched in 2020 between Dundee and Edinburgh, by Ember, a start-up company. The distance between the two Scottish cities is about half the 120 miles from Bristol to London.

Despite beginning in the first year of the Covid pandemic, the service has proved successful, attracting the attention…

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