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Wrightbus owner seeks £500m grant to build new green buses


Plans: Jo Bamford

Plans: Jo Bamford

Plans: Jo Bamford

The new owner of Wrightbus is hoping to get £500m from the Government as he plans to focus on hydrogen powered buses.

The Ballymena-based bus manufacturing company was saved by Jo Bamford last year after it entered administration and 1,400 jobs were lost.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Bamford, whose family owns the £3.5bn JCB empire, outlined his plans to create a zero emissions bus.

Mr Bamford wants £500m to get his dream up and running. He explained that £200m would be spent on infrastructure and a further £300m would be spent on subsidising hydrogen buses.

Around 3,500 of those buses would be made £100,000 cheaper, making them a similar price to diesel alternatives.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a £5bn programme to invest in England's bus network and Mr Bamford is desperate for Wrightbus to be involved.

"If you go and spend £5bn on zero-emission buses and they are all battery buses, most of which come from China. I am not sure that is the best for British industry," he said. "My point to the British Government: we haven't got an advantage in batteries. We have got an opportunity with hydrogen to claim that space."

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Mr Bamford, who has hired 700 people since Wrightbus' collapse, insisted that there has not been a backlash from staff to the changes he has made to the company. Workers previously had to fill out, stamp and countersign a 400-page manual during the bus building process, but that has since been replaced with iPads.

Wrightbus chief executive Buta Atwal stated: "We are not embarrassed to copy what works in other businesses, especially JCB."