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Coachways vision policy context in North East England

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Although there are no specific policies on the development of express coach services in the present Regional Transport Strategy for the North East (Government Office for the North East 2008) although there are indications that inter-urban bus and coach services may have an important role to play. Referring to the provision of public transport across the region, the strategy advocates the establishment of Middlesbrough, Darlington, Sunderland, Durham and Newcastle as strategic public transport hubs. Links between these interchanges and to the major urban areas outside of the region, are expected to form the "core public transport network" (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.166).

In terms of delivering the core public transport network and of specific relevance to the potential for new express coach serivces, the strategy recognises that in light of current funding constraints "bus based measures will offer the soundest value for money in the short term” (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.172). However it is also noted that “in the medium to longer term heavy and light rail schemes will need to be considered, particularly to make best use of available local rail network capacity" (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.172). Indeed a specific longer term aspiration is to improve the, at present, “poor” direct rail link that exists between the two city regions (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.158).

A further opportunity for express coach services is suggested by recognition of a "possible need to improve surface access links by all modes, particularly by public transport" to Durham Tees Valley and Newcastle International airports (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.160).

Contents

History

Transport policy in the North East has been informed by a number of studies that have been commissioned over the last ten years, including the influential Tyneside Area and A1 Multi-Modal Studies (Government Office for the North East p.158).

The Tyneside Area Multi Modal study looked at transport problems along the A1 and A19 around Newcastle while the A1 multi modal study focussed on transport problems along the A1 between Newcastle and the Scottish Borders. Together these studies recommended, amongst other things, reinstating passenger services along the disbanded Ashington, Blythe and Tyne rail line (to the North of Newcastle), improvements to the A1 Newcastle Gateshead Western Bypass and a programme of work to dual sections of the A1, also to the north of Newcastle (North East Regional Assembly 2005a p.13).

A number of plans to improve the A1 have been retained in the current Regional Transport Strategy (including dualing sections between Morpeth and Felton and Adderstone to Belford) (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.193). However, proposals to widen the A1 Newcastle Gateshead Western Bypass were initially rejected by central government (Highways Agency 2010) and work is ongoing to develop an alternative strategy for this section (Government Office for the North East 2008 p.158). Re-instating the Ashington, Blythe and Tyne rail line has also proved to be too expensive, and an alternative express bus services has recently been established (Arriva 2010).

A further notable development has been the creation of the Northern Way partnership between the North West, Yorkshire and Humber and North East regions (The Northern Way 2010). This partnership seeks to promote sustainable economic growth and emphasises the importance of the so called city regions in the North. With respect to transport policy, the partnership advocates support for a network of “fast rail and road links between all of the North’s city regions” (Government Office for the North East p.157). Accordingly, the Tyne Tees Connectivity Study (Faber Maunsell 2006) was specifically commissioned to investigate transport links between the Tyne and Wear and Tees Valley city regions in the North East. Overall this found that a complimentary package of measures to improve express bus services and existing (rather than new) rail services was likely to offer the most cost effective and deliverable solution in the short to medium term (Faber Maunsell 2006 p.36).

Indeed, while detailed plans for specific express bus or coach schemes are in their infancy, this perhaps strengthens the case for further inter-urban bus or coach services to be established in place of more costly rail schemes, as advocated in the current Regional Transport Strategy (Government Office for the North East 2008).

Regional transport policy timeline

Date Development
November 2002 Regional Planning Guidance for the North East (GONE 2002) is published. The guidance note includes a new Regional Transport Strategy.
December 2002 The results of the Tyneside Area Multi Modal Study are published (North East Regional Assembly 2005).
May 2002 The results of the A1 (North of Newcastle) Multi Modal Study are published (North East Regional Assembly 2005).
2004 Work begins on preparing the new Regional Spatial Strategy that will incorporate an updated Regional Transport Strategy (Association of North East Councils 2010).
April 2005 TAS partnership make recommendations for the inter-urban public transport network in a report entitled "A Bus Network for the Tees Valley" (TAS Partnership 2005).
June 2005 The approach to the transport component of the Regional Spatial Strategy is outlined (North East Regional Assembly 2005a). A draft Regional Spatial Strategy (North East Regional Assembly 2005b) is submitted to central government for consideration.
August 2006 The Tyne-Tees Connectivity Study (Faber Maunsell 2006) is published
July 2008 The North East of England Plan Regional Spatial Strategy to 2021 is adopted (GONE 2008). This contains an updated Regional Transport Strategy.

Recently completed coach schemes

Blythe - Ashington - Newcastle Express Bus Services: New express bus services have recently commenced along this route (Arriva 2010) as a cost effective alternative to reinstating the Ashington Blythe and Tyne Railway (They Work For You 2007).

Coach schemes currently in progress

There are no coach network related schemes currently in progress.

Coach scheme proposals

There are no known coach scheme proposals in the region.

Coach scheme aspirations

Sunderland to Durham railway station coach link: Identified in the Tyne and Wear City Development Programme, this scheme would improve access to mainline rail services from Sunderland. The service "could call at Houghton-le-Spring and connect with the Metro at Sunderland" (MRC McClean Hazel 2005, page 21).

Tees Tyne enhanced inter-urban express bus / coach services: Identified in the Tees Tyne Connectivity Study (Faber Maunsell 2006). This recommended that: the X1 between Middlesborough and Durham is increased to 4 services an hour; the X10 between Middlesborough and Newcastle is increased to 2 services an hour; and a new hourly service is intiated along a route from Middlesbrough – Stockton – Sedgefield – Washington – Gateshead – Newcastle.

Tees Valley Bus Network: In addition to the X1 and X10 service improvements, the Tees Valley Bus Network Study (TAS Partnership) recommended the following enhancements to inter-urban bus services: increase the X4 service from Middlesbrough to Redcar and Saltburn to 4 buses an hour; increase the X14 service from Middlesbrough to Darlington & Bishop Aukland to 2 buses an hour; increase the X99 Middlesbrough and Stockton to Darlington to 2 buses an hour; Start a new X35 service from Hartlepool to Billingham and Middlesbrough with 2 buses an hour.

Transport geography

The development of Regional Transport Strategy in the North East has been heavily influenced by the existence of two local major conurbations (referred to as city regions in recent policy developments): The Tees Valley city region to the south, which comprises Middlesbrough and Darlington, and the Tyne and Wear city region to the North, which comprises Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham.

The region is crossed by four significant strategic transport corridors, as identified in the North East's present transport strategy (Government Office for the North East 2008):

  • The A1 / East Coast Mainline: A North-South corridor, linking Darlington to Newcastle and beyond towards Edinburgh;
  • The A19 / Durham Coast rail line: A North-South corridor, linking Middlesbrough to Newcastle;
  • The A66 / Tees Valley rail line: An East-West corridor, linking the A1 to the South of Darlington to Penrith and beyond; and
  • The A69 / Tyne Valley rail line: An East-West corridor, linking Newcastle to Carlisle.

The region is also home to 6 ports (Tees port and Port of Tyne being the largest) and 2 international airports (Newcastle International and Durham-Tees Valley) (Government Office for the North East 2008).

See also

References

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