New electric buses operating in Greater Manchester are subject to a safety notice because of fears they could catch fire.

The notice has been issued to 50 zero-emission buses in the Bee Network’s fleet as part of a nationwide recall of 1,800 vehicles, transport chiefs have confirmed. However, the buses will operate as planned with extra ‘precautions’, they add.

It is understood the notice will not affect the current timetable of Greater Manchester’s publicly-controlled bus operation, and nor will it impact on the implementation of the next phase of franchising, scheduled for March 24.

Services in Wigan and Bolton came under the Bee Network’s control last September, along with parts of Salford and Bury. In a fortnight, Rochdale, Oldham, and north Manchester join the network in a move which will also add in the remaining parts of Salford and Bury not already covered.

The Alexander Dennis-built buses which are affected are operated by Go North West on behalf of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

A spokesperson for the latter confirmed staff are ‘following all precautions set out in this bulletin’.

“There are 50 zero emission Bee Network buses operating in the Greater Manchester that are impacted by the safety bulletin issued by Alexander Dennis,” a statement added. “The safety of passengers and staff is our priority and we can assure the public that both we and Go North West – operator of the fleet – is following all precautions set out in this bulletin and that there is no impact to local bus services.”

They also confirmed that the temporary remedy to ensure the vehicles’ safe operation was to turn off the HVAC system when the vehicle was left unattended, as has been reported by The Times.

Steve Warrener, TfGM’s finance director, added at a meeting of the Greater Manchester audit committee that he was ‘absolutely aware of the issues experienced’.

“We are working very closely with the manufacturer to ensure all appropriate mitigations are in place,” he told councillors on Wednesday (March 13). “We have a very close relationship with TfL’s bus and technical team to ensure any mitigation can be put in place as quickly as possible.”

Alexander Dennis, the Falkirk-based bus manufacturer, has also confirmed its investigation into the issue is ongoing. A spokesperson said: “Following an incident earlier this year, Alexander Dennis, BYD and other relevant parties have identified that there is a potential issue relating to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system supplied by Hispacold for some BYD–Alexander Dennis electric buses.

“The investigation is still ongoing and the root cause has not yet been identified. As the safety of our customers’ team members, bus drivers and passengers is of the utmost importance to us, a safety bulletin has been issued to all affected operators with temporary precautionary measures to ensure the highest levels of safety are met.

“Further updates will be provided to operators on conclusion of the investigation by Alexander Dennis, BYD and impacted suppliers, in consultation with the DVSA, when we expect to provide a permanent fix to resolve the issue.

“As far as is currently known, the issue does not directly affect core driveline components such as electric motors or traction batteries. Neither is there currently any suggestion that the issue is linked to other bus fires that recently received media attention as these involved different vehicle types and technologies.”