Network Rail has installed its first dedicated EV charging facilities for their commercial road fleet at its Swindon and Bristol depots and is trialling a fleet of electric vans for use across its network.

The charging infrastructure, which is being managed by Novuna Vehicle Solutions, will support the trial of 25 fully electric small vans. The trial is part of Network Rail's Project Zero plan to electrify its entire fleet to meet DfT decarbonisation targets by 2027.

The installation of six charging points at Network Rail’s Swindon depot and a further three at their Bristol depot will see 22kW 3 phase AC chargers fitted which are capable of fully charging the fleet's electric small vans in under eight hours overnight.

Network Rail is planning further installations at designated sites in Cardiff, Derby, Doncaster, Glasgow, Newcastle, Sandwell & Dudley and Shrewsbury as part of its Poject Zero initiative.

The project to install 24 sockets, across nine sites over a two-year period, runs alongside Novuna's existing £136m fleet management contract with Network Rail which has seen Novuna Vehicle Solutions overseeing the management of the organisation’s entire owned and leased road fleet, as well as sourcing and supplying over 3,000 lease vehicles since 2019.

As part of the deal, Novuna Vehicle Solution has also provided the organisation with an end-to-end decarbonisation solution including a bespoke transition plans, vehicle leasing, the EV charging infrastructure, as well as back-office management to provide remote diagnostics and enable ongoing maintenance.

Novuna has also completed a comprehensive depot feasibility assessment, evaluating the electricity demand and consumption across each of the proposed sites to ensure the viability of the installation. Triage reporting identified how many EV chargers could be installed within headroom and where smart charging, which uses software to balance the load, would be required.

Novuna Vehicle Solutions also provided vehicle leasing through the supply of fully electric small vans which will operate across all of Network Rail’s multi-site depots. Total cost of ownership modelling was also used to calculate the viability of the proposed EV transition to demonstrate the cost as well as the environmental benefits to Network Rail, which owns and operates the UK’s entire railway infrastructure.

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Jon Lawes, Novuna managing director, said: “Delivering workplace and depot charging solutions is a fundamental component of our decarbonisation strategy for fleets who are increasingly seeking on site charging to future proof their business operations.

“Despite the complexity of providing charging across multiple depot sites with the associated challenges of understanding the available electricity headroom at each site to overcome, the plan in progress to deliver charging infrastructure across multiple depot locations is already delivering cost and environmental benefits which support Network Rail’s journey towards a complete fleet electrification.

“By working together to provide Network Rail with an end-to-end decarbonisation solution, we’re helping them to achieve their fleet electrification targets whilst building on our established relationship which has already seen Novuna Vehicle Solutions become a trusted total assets solutions mobility partner.”

Willie Crawford, Network Rail head of road fleet, added: “Project Zero is a significant undertaking for Network Rail, as we progress further on our electrification journey. Installation of charging points at our Swindon and Bristol depots supported by a fleet of fully electric vans with further installations to follow at a number of additional sites significantly enhances our mobility capability to service the rail network through our ever expanding zero-emission fleet.

“Building on our established working partnership which has seen the delivery of an efficient and cost effective ‘one-stop shop’ solution provided by Novuna Vehicle Solutions for several years, these designated depot transformations are addressing our business requirements as we make the transition towards a fully EV fleet over the next five years.

"Driving improved cost and environmental efficiencies across Network Rail through Project Zero is fundamental as we continue on our journey towards becoming a truly sustainable railway.”