Birmingham gets first hydrogen bus

Birmingham City Council has unveiled the first of its 20 new hydrogen buses, which will be in operation later this year.

The new buses have been purchased as part of the Council’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot, which seeks to ‘kick-start’ the hydrogen market as a viable zero-emission fuel. The purchase of these buses has also received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking as part of the JIVE project.

Hailed as another solution to tackling the city’s poor air quality and a key step towards achieving the council’s net-zero carbon target.

Speaking in Centenary Square, where the first bus was unveiled to colleagues today, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, said: “Fuel cell buses offer a practical solution for cities to decarbonise public transport and immediately improve air quality.

“The delivery of the first bus is great news for our city and the rest of the region. It means that we can now work with our partners at National Express to start testing the buses, training drivers and adding livery design before rolling the buses out for the public in Autumn this year.

“This is a significant step towards our net-zero carbon target and will provide Birmingham with a leading role in informing debate on supportive policies for zero-emission public transport at a local and national level.”

The buses are made by Wrightbus and are the world’s first zero-emission hydrogen fuel-cell double-deckers. They will be operated in Birmingham by National Express – the first in England (outside London). 

It’s intended that Birmingham’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot will be the catalyst for the next generation of hydrogen buses, hydrogen production and re-fuelling infrastructure development.

It has been funded through OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles), GBSLEP (Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership), Birmingham City Council and JIVE project funding from the FCH JU (European Funding from the Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) under grant agreement No 735582. The FCH JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.

The council has also collaborated with ITM, producing and dispensing the hydrogen fuel from the new re-fuelling hub at Tyseley Energy Park.