The Anonymous Widower

Councils Rely On Diesels While Charging Drivers Who Use Them

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article in The Times.

Some points from the article.

  • Ninety-two percent of council vehicles are diesel-powered.
  • Only three percent are the greenest electric models.
  • Sivty-two council fleets are totally diesel.
  • Twelve councils are thinking of restricting or charging diesel or petrol vehicles to cut pollution, but all of these councils are reliant on diesel.

It looks like a case of politicians saying “Do as I say, but not as I do!”



December 11, 2019 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,


  1. This is a practical demonstration of the financial costs of change to electric..Capital expenditure to buy a more expensive fleet (and supporting infrastructure), avoiding loss of value through selling existing fleet too soon. Local government finances are just not up to the job (although it may be an interesting pension fund investment for future EV leasing, on a “pay per mile” basis). Similar issues for business and personal transition

    Realistically central government would need to part fund a transition (on a like for like basis) where a suitable vehicle exists for the job.

    Comment by MilesT | December 11, 2019 | Reply

    • Look up a company called Rock Rail on the Internet.They have an interesting model for matching train operating companies with new trains,train manufacturers and the money to buy them. Over the last few years they have been involved in the ordering of at least five new train fleets.
      1.they appear to work with the train operating company to develop the specification of the train and the number and delivery dates required.
      2. They use their expertise to find a manufacturer and get a very detailed quote or probably a selection.
      3.They line up finance from a Pension Fund or Insurance company, who’s looking for a suitable investment, typically over twenty years and more.
      4. Several of their recent deals have been backed by Aberdeen Standard.
      5. Rock then present the deals to the train company and they hopefully sign a deal.
      Rock seem to do all the setting up of the deal, which probably is not a train operating company’s expertise.
      I can see a similar deal done for Council vehicles like refuse trucks and school buses.
      There are a lot of councils out there and I’m sure the Rock Rail model would work. Councils would only be outsourcing the ownership of the vehicles and could employ the staff directly.
      The leasing company would probably provide the hydrogen system, if that is the route chosen.
      Everybody would be doing what they are good at..
      It would also work better with large metropolitan councils, who share facilities like some London boroughs do!

      Comment by AnonW | December 11, 2019 | Reply

      • Rock rail style deals do sound like a possibility

        Sadly, such deals are in jeopardy of failure in the court of public opinion at the local council level, unless there was central government money involved. Would take a strong influential local politician to sell the change and the benefits, and counter statements like:

        “Why are you replacing perfectly good vehicles with fancy new ones instead of spending more money on xxx”
        “This feels like a corrupt PFI deal, we all know how that worked out for our local hospital”

        Comment by MilesT | December 11, 2019

      • Train leasing has been around in the UK since rail privatisation. But Rock seem to me to be putting two needs together. The need of the train company to have shiny new or refurbished trains and the need of pension funds and insurance companies to have safe places where they can put large amounts of money so it earns between say 2-4% to pay someone’s pension for perhaps thirty years. Years ago, they used to invest in works of art, property and stocks and shares. But funds have got more sophisticated and realise that in countries like the UK and others, trains are a safe investment as they have a life of forty years.

        Rock Rail are very much a new generation of leasing company, as they seem to be more of a middleman with lots of technical knowledge. They certainly seem to be behind a lot of recent train deals, so they must be doing something right.

        If you look at some UK trains like the Class 379 trains for Stansted Express, you’ll see that no- one wants them. As there is little wrong with the trains, could it be that the leasing company is being greedy.

        I should say that leasing is often a good way to sell a product. The software system called Artemis, that I wrote was generally leased to our customers, who typically were big companies or Hovernment agencies. I wasn’t involved in that side of the business, but must have been advantageous for the customers, otherwise they would have paid in full. We certainly liked the fact we got a good cash flow for several years. It should be noted that TfL paid fully for the Crossrail trains, but have now done a sell and lease back deal, as they have run out of money due to the Mayor’s fare freeze.

        Nothing is ever as simple as you think.

        Returning to councils, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some already lease refuse trucks and other specialist vehicles, as the cash flow might be better and there’s an easy way built in to get a new one, when the current one wears out.

        Comment by AnonW | December 11, 2019

      • As to PFI, these were often much more complex deals, where the contracts had been written by clever lawyers with more holes than a string vest. I also think that often throwing outsourcing in to some contracts was a recipe for disaster. I’ve worked in many companies over the years, where things like catering and cleaning were contracted out successfully. But I’ve also been in places like hospitals, where it’s going wrong. I suspect that, if you contract something out in an organisation it must be managed properly and some government and local authority organisations don’t have the skills or perhaps will to manage these contracts properly.

        Comment by AnonW | December 11, 2019

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