Network Rail begins electric van fleet trial

EV plugged into charge point

Network Rail is adding 25 electric vans to its fleet as part of a new trial, in partnership with Novuna Vehicle Solutions.

The vehicles will be supported by new charging infrastructure at its Swindon and Bristol depots.

The initiative forms part of the organisation’s ‘Project Zero’ plans to electrify its entire fleet to meet Department for Transport decarbonisation targets by 2027.

Willie Crawford, head of road fleet at Network Rail, said: “Project Zero is a significant undertaking for Network Rail, as we progress further on our electrification journey. Installation of charging points at our Swindon and Bristol depots supported by a fleet of fully electric vans with further installations to follow at a number of additional sites significantly enhances our mobility capability to service the rail network through our ever expanding zero-emission fleet.

“Building on our established working partnership which has seen the delivery of an efficient and cost effective ‘one-stop shop’ solution provided by Novuna Vehicle Solutions for several years, these designated depot transformations are addressing our business requirements as we make the transition towards a fully EV fleet over the next five years. Driving improved cost and environmental efficiencies across Network Rail through Project Zero is fundamental as we continue on our journey towards becoming a truly sustainable railway.”

The installation of six charging points at Network Rail’s Swindon depot and a further three at its Bristol depot will assist the critical services operations of Network Rail, enabling 24/7 mobilisation of engineers to perform on-site maintenance and repairs at locations across the rail network.

Further installations at designated sites in Cardiff, Derby, Doncaster, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sandwell & Dudley and Shrewsbury are planned as part of Network Rail’s Project Zero initiative.

Novuna, formerly Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions, provides an end-to-end decarbonisation solution, which is designed to help fleets move to cleaner vehicles by assessing fleet challenges and creating bespoke transition plans, providing vehicle leasing, EV charging infrastructure and back-office management to provide remote diagnostics and enable ongoing maintenance.

To deliver the charging infrastructure Network Rail required, Novuna completed a comprehensive depot feasibility assessment, evaluating the electricity demand and consumption across each of the proposed sites ensuring the intended installation was viable. Triage reporting identified how many EV chargers could be installed within headroom and where smart charging, which uses software to balance the load, would be required.

The project to install 24 sockets, across nine sites over a two-year period runs alongside the existing £136m fleet management contract with Network Rail which has seen Novuna overseeing the management of the organisation’s entire owned and leased road fleet, as well as sourcing and supplying over 3,000 lease vehicles since 2019.

Jon Lawes, managing director of Novuna Vehicle Solutions, said: “Delivering workplace and depot charging solutions is a fundamental component of our decarbonisation strategy for fleets who are increasingly seeking on site charging to future proof their business operations.

“Despite the complexity of providing charging across multiple depot sites with the associated challenges of understanding the available electricity headroom at each site to overcome, the plan in progress to deliver charging infrastructure across multiple depot locations is already delivering cost and environmental benefits which support Network Rail’s journey towards a complete fleet electrification.

“By working together to provide Network Rail with an end-to-end decarbonisation solution, we’re helping them to achieve their fleet electrification targets whilst building on our established relationship which has already seen Novuna Vehicle Solutions become a trusted total assets solutions mobility partner.”

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