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TfL appoints partners for new London rapid charging network

Transport for London has appointed five partners for a new network of 300 rapid electric vehicle charging points across the capital.

The Centrica Consortium, BluepointLondon, Chargemaster, Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and Fastned were successful, and will fund, maintain, operate and install the network.

The operators will move quickly to install the charge points, with the first being operational within a matter of months. They will power vehicles in close to 30 minutes, compared with the three to four hours when using a standard unit. The initial aim is to see 75 charging points in the ground by the end of this year, with the network growing to 150 by the end of 2018 and 300 fully functioning by 2020.

TfL is working with the boroughs and investing £18million to unlock potential sites, including upgrading the power supply. Strategic hubs are also being evaluated on arterial roads, owned and maintained by TfL, and on private land, including Heathrow Airport and multiple Shell service stations. These are off-road locations that have potential to house a number of rapid charge points.

New taxis licensed after 1 January 2018 will need to be zero-emission capable, to help clean up London’s dirty air.

This charging network will be vital in assisting the greening of London’s iconic black cab fleet, with many charging points dedicated exclusively to their use by the end of next year.

Ben Plowden, TfL’s director of surface strategy and planning, said: “Urgent action needs to be taken to clean up London’s toxic air and rid the Capital of the most polluting vehicles. An extensive rapid charging network is fundamental in helping drivers make the shift from fossil fuels to electric. This is particularly important for the taxi and private hire trades and the fleet and freight sector, which over the next few years will be looking to dramatically increase the number of journeys made with zero-exhaust emissions.”

The creation of a competitive market is aimed at keeping prices low and a maximum rate will be guaranteed for pay-as-you-go users for the first two years. The contract is set up to create the best possible experience for customers.

Drivers will be able to pay at the charge point using a credit or debit card and it will not be compulsory to sign up to a membership or subscription scheme. The integrated network means drivers can use all five suppliers at no additional cost, making it easier to do business when using a zero-emission vehicle. 

Customers will be supported by 24-hour, seven-day-a-week call centres and have the latest information at their fingertips, such as the location and availability of charging points, both on the web and through apps. The location data will be made available, tapping into the creativity of the app-developing community.

Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment, said: “This investment in London’s infrastructure is great news for the Capital. It will help to shape a new competitive market for rapid charging points, preparing for new taxis as we look to phase out diesel and make the move towards ultra-low emission vehicles to help clean up London’s toxic air.”

Cllr Julian Bell, chair of London Councils’ transport and environment committee said: “We welcome this next step to provide rapid electric vehicle charging points in the capital, which play an important role for business users of electric vehicles in particular. We look forward to seeing these rolled out across all boroughs in the coming months and years.”

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