Rock Road enters zero-emission bus industry
Rock Road, a subsidiary of Rock Rail, has reached financial close on the financing of 30 Wrightbus Electroliners. The zero-emission buses are to be operated out of Twickenham depot on Route 111 by Abellio, replacing diesel buses.
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.
Rock Road’s disruptive approach offers what it describes as a ‘light-touch’ financing designed to allow 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 roll-out its 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.
“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” – Mark Swindell, Rock Rail & Road CEO
Mark Swindell, Rock Rail & Road CEO, said: “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.”
“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” – Ben Werth, Chief Commercial Officer at Wrightbus
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.”
“Funding from Rock Road supports us as an operator to lead the way on EV bus technology in London” – Alastair Willis, Head of Commercial at Abellio
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.”