Rock Road, a subsidiary of Rock Rail, has reached financial close on the financing of 30 Wrightbus Electroliners to be operated out of Twickenham depot on Route 111 by Abellio. The state-of-the-art vehicles are fully zero-emission and will replace old diesel buses, in turn, saving c.1750 tonnes of CO2 from polluting the environment each year.
This project represents the first non-recourse SPV financing of zero-emission buses in the UK in a consortium led by Rock Road Holdings Ltd and the Mayoral Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF), managed by Amber Infrastructure, with senior debt provided by the Greater London Authority and NatWest. Joanne Patrick, Head of Sustainable Energy at Amber Infrastructure, commented: “we are delighted to work together with Rock Road to support this innovative approach to financing zero-emission buses in London. We hope that this project will act as a catalyst to support Rock and London bus operators to decarbonise their fleets and improve air quality throughout the Capital”.
Rock Road’s disruptive approach offers a “light-touch” financing that allows operators to run their daily service with minimal interruption, as well as taking residual value risk beyond the initial lease. Rock also has a bespoke battery strategy that takes on the cost risk of replacement, allows our fleet to adapt to and benefit from advances in battery technology and provides the operator with the opportunity to generate upside from the repurposing of the replaced batteries.
Rock Road aims to use this project as a launchpad to rollout our funding solution and help accelerate the procurement of more zero-emission buses in London as the Capital targets a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2030. Rock also remains very interested in working with operators outside of London to provide a unique funding solution for orders submitted through the Government’s ZEBRA scheme and to lend financial support as unsubsidised procurements continue to grow. Rock will also continue to keep close track of franchising as it becomes more widely adopted around the UK and aim to support LTAs and operators in accelerating the UK’s transition to a nationwide zero-emission bus system.
Mark Swindell, Rock Rail & Road CEO, commented: “Back at COP26, Rock made the decision to widen its scope into a new sector to accelerate the decarbonisation of public transport and to further support the UK to reach its Net Zero targets. We set out to provide operators with a new type of funding for zero-emission buses that reduces the impact on balance sheet, allows operators to retain full control over their fleet and absorbs two key risks, namely: residual value and battery replacement.”
Shirley Rodrigues, London Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy said: “Electrifying London’s bus fleet is an important step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and tackling the devastating effects of toxic air pollution on public health. Our ambitious target for London to reach net-zero by 2030 requires investment to rapidly decarbonise our homes, offices, energy systems and transport. This investment from MEEF shows the vital role public sector funds can play in unlocking the private sector investment needed to accelerate our net zero efforts and help Londoners breathe cleaner air as we build a greener and better London for everyone.”
Jacob Lloyd, Head of Structured Asset Finance, NatWest said: “It’s great to support a new business entering the green transport space through our customers Rock Road and Amber Infrastructure. NatWest is committed to lending £100bn in climate and sustainable funding and financing by the end of 2025, with transport transition being an essential area for accelerated reduction in CO2 emissions. Supporting this transaction has helped us all take another step towards that reduction goal.”
Alastair Willis, Head of Commercial at Abellio, said: “Abellio London is proud to support TfL’s vision to decarbonise London and create cleaner and greener streets for all Londoners. By introducing these new state-of-the-art Wrightbus Electroliners with the enhanced features inside the bus, we will provide safe, comfortable and sustainable journeys for even more Londoners. Funding from Rock Road supports us as an operator to lead the way on EV bus technology in London.”
Ben Werth, Chief Commercial Officer at Wrightbus, said: “We are delighted to be providing 30 Electroliners – the world’s most efficient battery-electric double deck bus – for this important and busy London route. Our buses have a second-to-none reputation for providing passenger and driver comfort while at the same time contributing significantly to the reduction of emissions in the cities they serve. Public transport is a key component in the race to net zero and we are proud to be at the forefront of this.”