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Opportunities to Decarbonise Coaches

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Coaches are a source of CO2 emissions, when combined with buses represent approximately 4% of road transport CO2 emissions. Coach present a challenge to local air quality in some cities in the UK which breach the NOx air quality objective. At present there are limited national and local policy interventions to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from coaches; except the Low Emission Zone in London.

Defra’s recently published air quality plan outlining national measures to reduce ambient NOx concentrations has recommend the introduction of Clean Air Zones in a number of cities. These would serve as Low Emission Zones. Coaches would be covered under such a scheme in several regions in the UK; how these scheme would be implemented and managed by local authorities has yet to be defined.
LowCVP met British Coach Guild in 2013 and identified a limited appetite for the adoption of low carbon technologies by coach operators. Air quality seemed a more immediate and important concern. A selection of coach operators did however raise interest in reducing fuel costs and saw that low cost fuel saving technologies are a possible route to reducing GHG emissions.

There are clear synergies between the low carbon fuels and technologies applicable for buses and HGV with coaches. A light review of these was undertaken in LowCVP’s Low Carbon Bus Technology Roadmap. No detailed analysis of technology cost and pay-back time was undertaken, there appears to be gaps in robust data on current technology costs across different coach duty cycles. LowCVP is undertaking a number of HGV related projects that would be relevant to coaches. These are the

  • HGV Accreditation Scheme,

  • Gas Truck and Urban Truck Vehicle Testing Programme

  • Designing a Clean Vehicle Accreditation Scheme for retrofit NOx abatement technologies.

With regards to our bus work the LEB Accreditations Scheme and low carbon policy development activities could easily be replicated for coaches.

Given the success of the BWG’s historic work to stimulate the LCEB/LEB market in the UK, it would seem an ideal time to explore policy inventions for decarbonising coaches. Integration of air pollution reduction could help address coach operators concerns with complying increasingly stringent vehicle emission controls in cities. Coach operators might also be more responsive to adopting emission control technologies if fuel savings could be achieved in tandem. The introduction of new ‘low emission coach’ policies could provide win-win opportunities to address air pollution and GHG emission reduction from coaches.

Note – Coach operators travel across Europe, so requirements of LEZ in other European Cities are important. Retrofitting older coaches can be challenging as there are a variety of options.


Phase 1 – Building Understanding

  1. Overview of current coach market in the UK including number of coaches on the road, new coach sales, OEMs, operators, Euro standard of coaches, segmentation of coaches (city, inter-city).
  2. Quantify the carbon footprint of coaches and determine NOx and PM emissions. Identify which cities in England breach the NOx limit value due to coach emissions.
  3. Identify the current technology status of coaches with regards to CO2 emission reduction and to what degree these have been adopted by the coach industry (UK and Europe).
  4. Engage with coach operators – assess awareness of low carbon bus technologies, identify the barriers to adopting low carbon technologies, what interventions would encourage take up, identify acceptable pay-back time for low carbon coaches (including retrofit options), identify drivers for CO2 reduction, identify level of importance reducing CO2 emissions vs. NOx /PM reduction (AQ).

Phase 2 – Influencing Policy Development

  1. Identify the WTW CO2 equivalent emissions and cost of low carbon technologies and fuels suited to coaches and pay back (compared to E6), identify where fuel savings can be achieved.
  2. Identify benefits and potential risks to air pollution emissions of technologies identified in point 1.
  3. Identify cost of combined technology packages that can achieve NOx, PM and CO2 eq reduction, include retrofit technologies for coaches E3, 4, 5. Estimate air pollution and GHG emission savings (TTW). (Make reference to TRL & ease of combining options).
  4. Identify a range of fiscal and non-fiscal measures that could kick start the low carbon coach market.

Deliverables and Dissemination

Two report and presentation to DfT.

Delivery Timetable

April 2017 – February 2018

Project Partners

CPT, British Coach Guild, SMMT

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Eman Martin-Vignerte, Director, Bosch UK