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Zenobē partners with National Express for first sustainable shuttle service to Glastonbury Festival

Electric vehicle (EV) fleet and battery storage specialist Zenobē has partnered with National Express to deliver the first sustainable shuttle bus service to Glastonbury, putting the wheels in motion for the decarbonisation of mass passenger transport to and from large-scale events.

Zenobē will provide National Express, the UK’s leading public transport operator, with eight electric double-decker buses to service its Bristol-Glastonbury route, transporting music-lovers directly to the gates of one of the world’s most renowned music festivals in June.

As well as providing zero-emission buses, Zenobē will set up a pop-up charging station enabling National Express to charge the vehicles close to where they are needed instead of travelling to a central bus depot. For this, Zenobē is providing four fast DC chargers and a Powerskid made from second-life batteries for National Express to use for the duration of the festival, enabling each fully charged electric bus to travel up to 173 miles.

The shuttle service will run from Bristol Bus & Coach Station directly to Worthy Farm, with each bus expected to make three journeys a day, avoiding 348kg of carbon emissions compared with diesel alternatives.

The news marks an industry first, with Zenobē and National Express providing the first zero-emission mode of transport directly to the festival gates.

In contrast to petrol or diesel vehicles, electric buses do not produce carbon dioxide at the tailpipe or release harmful emissions, offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative to travelling by car, taxi or diesel bus.

Further positive environmental impact will be delivered through the use of Zenobē’s Powerskid made from second-life batteries. Formerly used to power electric vehicles, the refurbished batteries will provide clean and portable power to charge the buses up instead of using a diesel generator, resulting in cleaner air and reduced noise pollution, all while demonstrating the value of a circular economy.

Zenobē’s innovative pop-up charging solution directly addresses one of the biggest barriers to the electrification of transport to and from festivals and temporary event locations, which are often held in remote locations with limited charging points. Enabling temporary charging means that electrified transport is no longer constrained by existing fixed charging infrastructure or the need to be close to central bus depots to operate electric routes.

By combining the provision of electric buses with pop-up charging infrastructure, Zenobē has created a first of its kind prototype for other festivals and large-scale events to replicate, putting the wheels in motion for the decarbonisation of mass passenger transport to and from large-scale events. It’s another example of Zenobē applying its expertise in electric fleet infrastructure and operations to a range of sectors to spearhead the shift towards a cleaner, greener economy, and its ability to tailor solutions to suit the needs of their partners.

The Bristol-Glastonbury route is one of more than 60 for which National Express will be operating dedicated services from across the country for the festival. The plans form part of National Express’s commitment to leading the modal shift from private cars to sustainable public transport, with Zenobē supporting it in its aims to operate a completely zero-emission bus fleet by 2030 and coach fleet by 2035.

The partnership builds on the pre-existing relationship between Zenobē and National Express, where in February 2022, Zenobē agreed to provide 130 electric buses for National Express to operate in Coventry.

Steven Meersman, Co-Founder and Director of Zenobē, said:

“This summer we’re providing the first sustainable bus route to what is arguably the world’s most iconic music festival, and we’re pleased to be partnering with National Express to reach another milestone together.

“We’ve paired two of Zenobē’s unique offers: second-life EV batteries and our Electric Transport as-a-Service platform, to enable National Express to easily and affordably access an electric bus fleet and conveniently charge it near to the festival site.

“It marks an important step in the decarbonisation of the festivals and events industry, where huge numbers of people flock to remote locations for just a few days but to date have not had sustainable ways of getting there. It’s an innovative solution for sustainable festival and events travel which we look forward to introducing to the sector.”

Tom Berry, Zero Emissions Vehicle Specialist at National Express, said: 

“We’re pleased to be able to run these zero emission buses for the very first time to Glastonbury, a festival which has always had sustainability at its very core. As the official coach travel partner for Glastonbury, we’re experienced in providing reliable and affordable dedicated services direct to Worthy Farm, carrying over 12,000 revellers from all over the UK each year.

“It’s great to be able to work with Zenobē to introduce more sustainable means of public transport for our customers and by having access to pop-up chargers on site for the first time, we’re able to operate our festival services more efficiently – leading the charge in cleaner and greener travel solutions.”