Willmott Dixon is helping to power the launch of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network after installing EV charging facilities for 50 new zero-emission electric buses (ZEBs).

Procured through SCAPE, one of the UK’s leading procurement specialists, Willmott Dixon built the EV charging infrastructure at Transport for Greater Manchester’s (TfGM) upgraded Bolton bus depot. This included a new private high-voltage ring main and substations together with low-voltage distribution, feeding 25 dual EV chargers.

This is powering the first 50 ZEBs of the Bee Network; Greater Manchester's vision to deliver a joined-up London-style transport system, which launched on 24 September 2023. It’s a key part of Greater Manchester’s aim to have an all zero-emission bus fleet by 2032.

The very first Bee Network service buses are carrying passengers in Bolton, Wigan, and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester. Fully branded as part of the Bee Network fleet from day one, each of the BYD-Alexander Dennis Eviro400EV zero-emission buses will seat 62 passengers.

Anthony Dillon, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the north: “The launch of the Bee Network is an incredibly exciting moment and will be transformational for public transport in Greater Manchester. We’re proud to play our part in creating a new hub for the very first of the region’s soon-to-be iconic yellow buses.
“As an Oldham-based business, our ambition is that by 2030 we will be a zero-carbon company without any offsetting. TfGM and Greater Manchester’s zero-emission fleet pledge matches our own pledge to be zero-carbon in our own operations without offsetting by 2030 – and part of that also includes assisting our customers in achieving the same in their operations.”

This is Willmott Dixon’s latest project for TfGM and was accelerated by SCAPE Construction, a direct award framework designed to drive collaboration, efficiency, time and cost savings on construction projects.

The company is also working with TfGM, in partnership with Stockport Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), to deliver the multi-million-pound transformation of Stockport's bus station into a modern transport interchange, which completes in 2024.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)'s Bus Reform Director Anne Marie Purcell said launching the Bee Network and delivering the first phase of bus franchising had been a huge achievement – and one that would not have been possible without the vitally important contributions of partners such as Willmott Dixon.

She said: “By upgrading the Bolton depot and installing this crucial EV charging infrastructure, Willmott Dixon is playing a critical role in enabling our new fleet of zero-emission electric buses to hit the streets from day one, bringing immediate benefits to our customers.
“It also shouldn’t be underestimated how big a part this will play in creating a sustainable Bee Network – one of our six customer commitments - as we strive to make Greater Manchester a greener and healthier place for everyone.”

As the Bee Network expands, a further 50 ZEBs will be delivered to Greater Manchester in March 2024 to run services in Bury, Rochdale and Oldham and across parts of Manchester, Salford and Tameside.

The hundred new buses are being funded by the government’s City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS), with up to 250 more being delivered from 2024 to 2027.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­Mark Robinson, Group Chief Executive for SCAPE, said: “As the need for sustainable infrastructure increases, the facilities to support the new Bee Network of zero-emission buses will ensure residents across the Greater Manchester area have convenient, efficient, low-carbon public transport.
“By using the SCAPE framework, TfGM will be able to deliver quickly and evidence clear value for the taxpayer, whilst creating additional social value through local employment and engagement opportunities.”