Last reviewed 5 January 2022

With Birmingham City Council’s 20 zero-emission double deckers now in service on National Express routes, hydrogen-powered buses are carrying passengers in the West Midlands for the first time.

Outside London, these are the only hydrogen buses operating in England.

The Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar, said: “Birmingham City Council’s zero-emission green-hydrogen bus fleet provides an innovative solution for cities that want to decarbonise public transport. They should immediately improve air quality and help us work towards Birmingham’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.”

The new buses have been purchased as part of the Council’s Clean Air Hydrogen Bus Pilot which is, it said, taking a leading role in the zero-emissions logistics market.

Made by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, the vehicles produce only pure water vapour from their tailpipes and will save 631kg of poisonous nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions per year.

They can be fully refuelled in seven to 10 minutes and can run for 300 kilometres on a single tank.

However, drivers have to be specially trained to drive hydrogen buses because they behave differently to those with combustion engines. Bus drivers learn to preserve the fuel cell charge for as long as possible to extend the distance the vehicle can go before needing refuelling.

Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, David Bradford, said that the company was working with Transport for West Midlands to get hundreds more electric and hydrogen buses on routes across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country.