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Rock Rail, Aviva, and UK Infrastructure Bank Forge £100m Investment Alliance for Zero-Emission Bus Revolution

In a significant development for the UK's burgeoning electric bus market, a new collaborative initiative has been unveiled today, poised to invest a substantial £100 million into the sector. This dynamic partnership, comprising Rock Rail, UK Infrastructure Bank, and Aviva, is primed to catalyze the deployment of up to 250 cutting-edge zero-emission buses and essential infrastructure upgrades.

The brainchild of this alliance, the innovative 'Rock Road' financing platform, promises to revolutionize the landscape of zero-emission bus financing. Fueled by a robust debt facility from the UK Infrastructure Bank and HSBC UK, this pioneering venture aims to provide a much-needed financial lifeline to propel the electrification of public transport.

In a testament to its immediate impact, the partnership has already inked its inaugural deal, earmarking funding for 60 state-of-the-art battery-electric buses. These eco-friendly vehicles, destined for deployment by The Go-Ahead Group across various routes in London, symbolize a tangible step towards sustainable urban mobility.

At the heart of 'Rock Road' lies a commitment to facilitating the transition to a greener future for UK bus operators and public transport authorities. By offering a bespoke finance solution, the initiative facilitates fleet decarbonization while alleviating the financial burden associated with upfront capital investment. Moreover, by assuming ownership risks about residual value and battery replacement, 'Rock Road' empowers stakeholders to embrace eco-friendly technologies confidently.

Emphasizing the broader ramifications of this collaborative endeavor, the participating companies underscore their collective ambition to establish a scalable funding model. The initiative aspires to expedite the widespread adoption of zero-emission buses by harnessing private capital and reducing reliance on public funding, propelling the nation towards its ambitious climate targets.

In the words of the visionary minds behind this groundbreaking partnership, the launch of 'Rock Road' marks a pivotal juncture in the evolution of sustainable urban transport. By harmonizing financial innovation with environmental stewardship, Rock Rail, UK Infrastructure Bank, and Aviva are charting a course towards a cleaner, more resilient future for public transportation in the UK.

John Flint, CEO of the UK Infrastructure Bank, which provides £50m of debt financing in support of the venture, said investment was urgently needed to help decarbonise the transport sector. "The vast majority of the UK's 36,500 buses are still diesel-powered, and so replacing these with a cleaner, greener alternative will be key in decarbonising the transport sector and achieving UK net zero targets," he said. "This will require a massive scale-up of investment. The Bank's financing has been crucial in helping to bring the innovative Rock Road leasing scheme to the market, which will reduce operators' costs and help improve the uptake of zero-emission buses across the UK."

Charlotte Jones, chief financial officer at Aviva, said the partnership formed part of the company's wider push to mobilise investment in the net zero transition. "Aviva is investing across the UK to stimulate growth, help communities get ready for the future, and support the transition to net zero," she said. "This investment will make it easier for transport authorities to decarbonise their networks whilst continuing to provide a valuable public service."

The partnership aims to emulate Rock Rail's success in the rail sector, which has delivered over £3.5bn of investment in new trains since 2016. "Rock Rail is delighted to be working with Aviva, the UK Infrastructure Bank and HSBC UK to invest in the decarbonisation of bus networks across the UK while supporting passenger transport authorities and bus operators to radically transform the regularity, punctuality and reliability of bus services," said Mark Swindell, CEO of Rock Rail.

The news was also welcomed by Transport Decarbonisation Minister Anthony Browne, who said the new investment built on the government's continued support for the UK's fast-expanding zero-emission bus fleet.

"It's fantastic to see Rock Rail, the UK Infrastructure Bank and Aviva join forces to make it easier and quicker for operators to decarbonise their bus fleets, with a commitment to provide £100m in funding for 250 new electric buses," he said. "This comes only days after we invested £143m to roll out almost a thousand zero-emission buses all over England, as we continue to work closely with industry to provide passengers with modern and cleaner buses while growing the economy."


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