FirstGroup places £70m bus order

FirstGroup bus FirstGroup runs rail and bus services across the UK

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FirstGroup has placed a £70m order for 425 new buses as it looks to upgrade its fleet.

Almost 100 of the vehicles will be built by Alexander Dennis in Falkirk.

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup is under pressure to reduce emissions from its buses as well as improving passenger access.

Its order includes more than 300 mid-size buses, which will be built by Ballymena-based Wrightbus in Northern Ireland, as well as six electric buses.

First said 274 of the buses it had ordered from Wrightbus were for Micro Hybrid vehicles which were among the most fuel efficient on the market.

'Biggest order'

First Group will be the first company to operate these new buses, which it said improved fuel efficiency by about 10%.

The order brings the company's total investment in 2,000 new vehicles to around £310m over four years.

The new vehicles will be delivered in the 2014/15 financial year.

First UK Bus managing director Giles Fearnley said: "This is the biggest order on record for services entirely outside London.

"We operate in 40 of the UK's largest towns and cities and our investment will help support the communities we serve.

"This order is great news for our customers and underlines our commitment to growing our business and encouraging more people to use our services and use them more often."

Alexander Dennis has secured a contract for 97 vehicles, including 60 double-deckers, while Leeds company Optare will manufacture 21, including six electric vehicles, and Volvo Group UK will build six coaches.

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