Kent Thameside Fastrack contract extended for 15 years

Kent County Council (KCC) has signed a 15-year contract to continue the Kent Thameside Fastrack service, which will provide a reliable all-electric service within the next year.

From November 2024 to April 2025, a fleet of 28 clean-energy, fully electric buses will replace the existing diesel-powered vehicles on the Dartford and Gravesham routes.

VEV will provide on-street electric vehicle charging points for the buses, while Irizar will manufacture the chosen ie-Tram buses, which Go Ahead London will operate daily.

The 15-year contract will mean that the service can provide a reliable connection for people in north Kent, connecting communities and helping to keep Kent moving while promoting public transport as a more sustainable form of travel.

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Neil Baker, said: ‘This is an exciting time for users of our Kent Thameside Fastrack service as we upgrade our fleet to new electric models.

‘With the added security of a 15-year contract, passengers can be confident that this service is here to stay.’

Go-Ahead London’s Managing Director, David Cutts, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome the Kent Fastrack network into our portfolio and intend to provide a high-quality user experience from a dedicated facility in Dartford. 

‘As the UK’s biggest and most innovative Zero-Emission bus operator, with around 535 electric vehicles in service across the capital, we look forward to applying over a decade’s decarbonisation expertise in Kent.’

Managing Director of Irizar e-mobility, Iñigo Etxeberria, said: ‘We are delighted that our electric bus technology has been chosen for Kent County Council’s Fastrack BRT network. This is a clear testament to our confidence in our products and proof of our quality and reliability. 

‘KCC is investing heavily in sustainable public transport solutions, and we are honoured to be part of this exciting project. We are committed to continuous improvement, and this unique operation will allow our company to deliver the first ultra-fast charging bus routes for Kent County Council.”

VEV‘s CEO, Mike Nakrani, said: ‘We are thrilled to be working with Kent County Council to build the charging infrastructure for Fastrack Electric. The council was clear that the charging solution could not impact the bus rapid transit (BRT) schedule and that it had to work within the space and power constraints at the depot. The innovative pantograph chargers provided the solution, safely charging away from the depot while passengers board.

‘This ground-breaking project exemplifies the transformative potential when public and private entities unite to build a greener, more connected future.’