Autumn 2015 Bus Service Changes around Cheshire East

After a long quiet spell with no change to bus services in Cheshire, we now have a lot happening throughout August and into the start of September. Some services get minor timetable changes, whatever that might mean. From 2015-08-22, these are D&G’s services 1A and 1B between Crewe Business Park, Crewe and Bentley Motors as well as service 78 between Nantwich and Rode Heath. Then, on the week commencing 2015-08-31, it is the turn of Arriva’s service 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester (week commencing 2015-08-31) together with Network Warrington’s services 5, 5E and 35 between Warrington and Altrincham. On the same week, Stagecoach’s service 378 between Wilmslow and Stockport reverts to its normal timetable once the summer school holidays are over.

In Crewe from 2015-08-22, there are a number of changes caused by D&G and GHA ceasing to operate service 9. Suggested alternatives include a new service 7 operated by D&G between Crewe and Elm Drive or services 8 and 8A between Wistaston Green, Crewe, Sydney and Elm Drive. The latter sees Routemaster buses operating its evening journeys and minor change to daytime ones operated by D&G. From 2015-08-24, Routemaster buses are to be operating new services 9 and 9A between Crewe and Wistaston and a new service 20 with three journeys between Crewe, Kingsway and South Cheshire College.

Other changes to bus services around Crewe include the truncation of D&G service 6 to operate between Crewe and Shavington only. Suggested alternatives for getting between Crewe and Leighton Hospital are Arriva’s services 6, 31 and 31A. GHA services 39 and 44 are possibilities for those travelling between Shavington and Nantwich. From 2015-08-24 though, D&G are introducing a new service 12 between Crewe, Coppenhall and Leighton Hospital that goes via Mablins Lane and Parkers Road. The last of the current batch of changes to Crewe bus services starts from 2015-09-06 with First’s service 3 between Crewe and Newcastle or Keele no longer serving Leighton Hospital so the preceding collection of services have been suggested as alternatives.

Encouragingly, GHA are offering extra journeys on services 38 between Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe, 88 between Knutsford, Wilmslow and Altrincham and 130 between Macclesfield and Manchester from the week commencing 2015-08-31 along with additional early morning and early evening journeys on a new service 27X between Macclesfield and Knutsford that complements the existing services 27, 27A and 27B that they already operate. Service 130 is seeing new early and late Monday to Saturday journeys and something similar is coming to service 38 too so I will be interested to see what is being proposed. Service 88 is getting two extra early evening journeys so they must be doing well with that since they enhanced it over a year ago.

Lastly, 2015-09-06 sees a consolidation of services acquired by D&G from Bakerbus earlier in the year. Service 99 is to be withdrawn with service 94 revised to served Congleton as well as Biddulph and Newcastle. This seems to fit the theme of all the changes with any withdrawals being substituted by new or existing services with new journeys being added to existing services too. The picture is not a discouraging one then and I shall await with interest details of those extra journeys whose times I have yet to know. This entry may be tweaked a little yet.

Changes to Arriva bus services around Darlington

Since yesterday, Arriva has set in place quite a reorganisation of bus services around Darlington. This was an operation acquired from Stagecoach and I was travelling some of the bus transferred during the transaction on a visit to Teesdale during the Mayday Bank Holiday weekend of 2008. The seats still retained the covering patterns or moquette favoured by their former owner while many if not all had gained Arriva corporate paintwork by that time.

1, 1B Darlington – Bishop Auckland – Crook – Tow Law

All of these will depart now from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington. The X1 sees an extra service from West Auckland at 07:44 that follows the route of service 6 as far as Tindale Crescent before continuing along the usual X1 route to Darlington with an arrival time of 08:25.

2 Darlington – Branksome

Also departs from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

3 Darlington – Mowden

Also departs from Stand I on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

4 Darlington – Minors Crescent – Darlington

Now departs from Stand J on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

5, 5A Bishop Auckland – Shildon – Newton Aycliffe – Aycliffe Industrial Estate – Darlington

This now departs from Stand H on Tubwell Row in Darlington with no change in timetable. However, evening and Sunday services no longer interwork with those on service 7 and the Sunday service interwork with the X66 instead.

7 Darlington – Newton Aycliffe – Woodham – Chilton – Ferryhill – Durham

It is the addition of Thinford’s DurhamGate development to the route that has meant the breaking of any interworking with service 5A. The required additional running time between Ferryhill and Durham is the cause both of this and changes in timings. There is one journey that has been removed from the service and added to another: an early morning one commencing from Coxhoe to Durham. Buses now depart from Stand H on Darlington’s Tubwell Row.

8 Darlington – Aycliffe – Ferryhill – Spennymoor
8A Ferryhill – Spennymoor

Service 8 remains unaltered apart from a change to departure stand (now H) on Darlington’s Tubwell Row that also affects the 8A. It is the latter that sees route changes to take in the southern section of Thinford’s DurhamGate development while an opportunity to standardise route timings also gets taken.

9 Darlington – Haughton Road – Springfield
10 Darlington – Haughton Road – Whinfield

An extra vehicle is added to the roster for this service to improve timekeeping and it now uses Stand F on Prebend Row in Darlington as its departure point.

11 Red Hall – Darlington

No change.

12, 12A Hurworth – Darlington Town Centre – Trees Park Village

No change.

13A, 13B Darlington – Firth Moor – Darlington

Now departs from Stand G on Prebend Row in Darlington.

14 Darlington – Skerne Park
14A Harrowgate Hill – Darlington – Skerne Park
14B Springfield – Darlington – Skerne Park

Because of the withdrawal of services 6 and 6A, this route gets quite an overhaul with even different stands being used for each service. All do use Stand J on Tubwell Row for services to Skerne Park. Services 14 and 14A see revised timetables with former long journeys on the 14 as far as Morrison’s supermarket being extended as far as Whinbush to serve former customers of the 6 and 6A using the number 14B. On the way to Whinbush, the 14B uses Stand K on Tubwell Row. The 14A will depart from Stand H on Tubwell Row for Harrogate Farm.

19 Darlington – Faverdale – West Park

No change.

21 Darlington – Sedgefield – Trimdon Village – Peterlee
21A Middlesbrough – Sedgefield – Trimdon Village – Peterlee

Service 21 now departs from Stand H on Tubwell Row in Darlington.

59 Askrigg – Hawes – Leyburn
X59 Askrigg – Hawes – Leyburn – Darlington

No change.

75 Darlington – Staindrop – Barnard Castle
76 Darlington – Winston – Barnard Castle

No change.

X26, 26A Darlington – Richmond – Colburn – Catterick Garrison
X27 Darlington – Richmond – Marne

No change.

X66/X67 Darlington – Harrowgate Hill – Stockton – Middlesbrough

The only change is to the Sunday timetable when journeys run thirty minutes later so as to interwork with services 5 and 5A. Otherwise, the Darlington departure point or the rest of the timetable is untouched.

Changes to Crewe bus services in September & October of 2013

Within the last few days, a number of changes to bus services serving Crewe have been announced. These are coming in three waves, one for each of three bus companies. D&G is first and largely sticks to tweaking times and routes as does First. Arriva sadly are doing a spot of pruning though this is no near as drastic as what was facing us this time last year.

The 22nd of September is when the first batch of changes will come to pass and they are being introduced by D&G. Service 85 from Crewe to Hanley (Stoke-on-Trent) will have two morning journeys starting later: 08:15 at 08:35 and 09:30 at 09:35. The 45/45A service between Nantwich and Crewe will see the 08:22 journey from Marshfield to Crewe start at the earlier time of 08:12. Crewe town services 8, 8A and 9 are seeing some swapping around with 8A replacing the 8 and 9 on some Monday to Friday afternoon journeys. All of these are tweaks compared to what was going on this time last year and any later or earlier starts affect later stopping points on those journeys by the same amount of time.

Next up for adjustment is the 20 service from Crewe to Hanley that is operated by First Potteries from 6th October. Again, these are timing changes apart from withdrawal of the extension to Haslington. Otherwise, it’s a matter of journeys such as the Sunday morning 09:08 arrival at Leighton Hospital seeing tweaks. Some other journeys from Leighton Hospital start three minutes early and more again will see timing changes between Crewe train station and Radway Green. All of this is for the sake of ensuring greater reliability so things most have changed on roads around there recently to necessitate the changes.

On 27th October, Arriva are adjusting services 31/31A between Crewe and Northwich and 6 between Crewe and Shavington. The latter is losing the first Monday to Saturday journey of the day in each direction. Late afternoon journeys on the 31/31A are being thinned out with Monday to Friday post 16:00 journeys from Northwich to two at 16:35 and 17:40. Their equivalents on Saturdays are to become hourly (16:15, 17:15, 18:15). Post 17:00 Northwich journeys from Crewe go down to two from Monday to Friday (17:20 & 17:55) and three on Saturday (17:01, 17:31, 18:31). In all of this, the last journey of the day from Crewe to Winsford escapes unscathed.

Still some council support forthcoming after all

Previously, I reported the then upcoming decimation of Monday to Saturday evening services on service 38 between Macclesfield and Crewe. Now, it seems that Bakerbus have a contract to run later evening journeys on an hourly basis from 20:35 to 23:35 in either direction, albeit without having to honour tickets issued Arriva or D&G. This is promising news and makes me wonder now becomes of the planned short Arriva journeys between Macclesfield and Congleton (20:30 and 20:57 in each direction) and the 20:25 from Crewe to Sandbach. Maybe, all will become more clear in time but the continuation of something like the current is nothing but good news. Apparently, the 38 gets considered a strategic service and the 130 from Macclesfield to Manchester gets nothing like the same status, as can be seen from the severe service reductions in recent times.

This changeover is to take place on June 3rd and there is another on July 1st: the return of council funding for service 77 between Congleton and Kidsgrove. The current timetable will not be changing so the current set up of four journeys in each direction from morning into early afternoon is to remain. Though the days of the route all the way to Hanley bus station in Stoke-on-Trent, it is encouraging to see its continuation given that Astbury and Mow Cop are calling points, the latter of these being especially important for being on the Gritstone Trail.

Crewe gets its share of support for town services too with D&G’s service 9 between Crewe and Wistaston getting support for its Saturday journeys. The result is that there are more journeys over near enough the full route (Elm Drive is not served) for more of the day than was the case before. To compensate for the omission of Elm Drive from service 9, all current service 8 journeys are to follow the 8A route (with a consequent change in route number) instead as they go between Wistaston Green, Crewe and Sidney. This new arrangement comes into place from June 9th and June 3rd also sees tweaks to services 44 and 44M between Crewe and Nantwich (44M gets re-timed and Monday to Friday 08:55 from Crewe changed to start from Shavington at 09:08 instead).

June 3rd also sees D&G taking over daytime journeys on Knutsford town service 300 from High Peak without a change in timetable. There is no word of council financial support for this but the sense of High Peak leaving Knutsford is not hard to see now that they no longer operate service 27 to there from Macclesfield. It still is out on a limb for D&G too and Tomlinson Travel continue with the evening ones and I have heard some complaints on the service that they provide.

For a change, this latest round of bus service announcements is good news; developments haven’t looked this harmless for a while. It also is intriguing to see council funding appearing now after what was looking like bus services being left to their own devices with some falling on such hard times that they couldn’t continue as they were. For a good while. it almost felt like the approach was a managed decline somewhat akin to that applied to the railways in Britain for a few decades and was quite ironic given that bus services were mooted as replacements for soon to be defunct railway lines in Beeching’s plans.

What makes me wonder a little though is the timing of all of this. Cheshire East Council has seen hefty staffing upheaval in recent months. Having experienced this sort of re-organisation myself a number of times during my career so far, I realise how much stasis they can cause and I find myself asking if the same thing befell Cheshire East; folk in fear of their jobs can be unable to make decisions and it looks like that was happening before what we see now. Beyond what was happening, it might be that folk can see their way ahead again.

Seeing the recognition of the 38 as a strategic service was a great development and I’d like to think that its Sunday evening journeys may be graced by the same thinking at some point in the near future. Maybe that’s being overly optimistic but I was beginning to think that Northern Rail’s service between Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent might have made services like those on routes 38 and 77 less critical in the eyes of some and hence more vulnerable to withdrawal. After all, loss of trust in bus services is a dangerous thing and seeing what was happening was making my mind veer towards the apparent safe haven of train services. Let’s hope that we have found the bottom now and that bus service news may be a bit more positive from this point forward.