National Express vows to reach zero emissions by banning diesel buses

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
People board a National Express coach at the Victoria Coach Station, in central London. (PA)

National Express (NEX.L) has vowed to never buy another diesel bus in the UK, as part of plans to make its British bus and coach fleets emission-free by 2035.

The transport operator will also link rewards for senior executives to its environmental targets.

The company said in a statement on Thursday it planned to introduce its first electric coaches next year. It said the plans would make the company “the first zero emission transport group in the UK.”

It also praised the government’s recently announced £5bn bus fund and regional authorities’ plans for public transport investment in the West Midlands.

Dean Finch, National Express’ group chief executive, said the plans were the “right thing to do” for customers, the areas it serves and its stakeholders.

"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,” he said in a statement.

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The company also said it had achieved record profit on its operations, which include North America, Morocco, Spain and other parts of Europe. Profits rose 12.5% to £242.3m in 2019, and revenue also rose 12% to £2.74bn.

It has seen continued growth over the past year in both the UK and elsewhere. Revenue in Britain rose 3.9% to £599.7m, with passenger numbers on bus routes in the West Midlands rising fastest of any UK region.

It saw record numbers of passengers on UK coaches, but its expansion has continued overseas. After securing two major contracts in Morocco, it now has more buses operating in the country than in the UK.

Shares in the company dropped 0.7% on Thursday, but the decline appeared to be more linked to the wider market reaction to the coronavirus outbreak. National Express took less of a hit than many other major firms in a fresh stock market rout in early trading, with the FTSE 100 (FTSE) dropping 2.4%.

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