What Is Proposed?
SENRUG wants to see regular busses serving the station turning circles at both Morpeth & Cramlington stations. Additionally, some busses from Northumberland should run to Newcastle Central station rather than terminating at Haymarket. There should also be integrated bus / rail ticketing allowing return journeys to Newcastle to be by train in one direction and bus in the other. The Explorer North East Rover Ticket should be widened to include all local (Northern) rail services operating out of Newcastle in the geographic area the ticket covers. It already includes Metro and Northern rail services between Newcastle and Sunderland.
Passengers wishing to travel by public transport should be able to get to the station easily, without having to hire a taxi, be dropped off and / or picked up, or walk a long way from the nearest bus stop, possibly with heavy luggage or in bad weather. Integrating bus and train travel in this way will ease pressures on overloaded station car parks and generate more passengers for both bus and train companies. A direct bus from Northumberland locations to Newcastle station would assist those making long distance train journeys from towns and villages in Northumberland that don’t have easy access to a Northumberland station with a good intercity train service. Integrated ticketing would increase use of both bus and train particularly for passengers who can’t be sure if they will return at a time a suitable train is running. This is particular important given the paucity of local rail services in the evening. It would then be possible to travel to Newcastle by train and return by bus.
SENRUG believes the more public transport is integrated, the more it becomes a viable option for journeys, and passenger numbers and hence revenue will increase on both trains and busses where better integration takes place.
The station bus turning circles at Cramlington and Morpeth could be served by very minor diversions to or extensions of nearby bus routes. At Cramlington, it could simply be a minor diversion of the bus that serves Nelson Village, or the routes that travel along the main road at the entrance to Nelson Village and the station. (43, 57, 58).
There is also a need for a good bus service between Cramlington station and the new Cramlington hospital, which could be part subsidised by the NHS (see the NHS letter to SENRUG confirming their willingness to consider subsidising a bus service between the station and hospital here). Given the need to serve other isolated communities and Seaton Delaval Hall National Trust property, SENRUG suggests a route as follows:
Bedlington - Bog Houses - East Hartford – Nelson Village - Cramlington Station Bus Turning Circle – Cramlington Dudley Lane Shops – Cramlington Hospital – Seaton Delaval Station (to be re-opened as part of SENRUG’s campaign to re-open the Ashington Blyth & Tyne Line) – Seaton Delaval Hall – Seaton Sluice – Whitley Bay.
At Morpeth the bus routes that serve the Stobhill Estate (2, 43) could be diverted to additionally serve the station bus turning circle. Alternatively, it is not necessary for the busses on routes 2 and 43 to travel round the Stobhill estate at exactly the same time and route 43 could be diverted to serve the station bus turning circle and Coopies Lane industrial estate instead. Additionally, some routes that terminate at Morpeth Bus Station (eg route 35 from Ashington and Pegswood) could be extended on to the railway station.
There is no reason why the Explorer North East Rover Ticket cannot be extended to cover all local rail services. It just needs the appropriate negotiation between the bus and train companies with recognition that the ticket could be valid on local (Northern) rail services but not long distance or intercity services that also pass through the region. The ticket is already valid for Newcastle to Sunderland and Newcastle to Blaydon rail journeys, but not on other local rail services radiating out from Newcastle.
Integrated ticketing for both bus and rail journeys could be introduced by introduction of a new North East smart card, similar to the successful London Oyster card.
In May 2016, a very limited bus service (route S1) was introduced at Morpeth Station bus turning circle, running to the town centre and bus station in one direction and Loansdean, Clifton and Stannington in the other. This has now been augmented by a few more journeys including some other locations on routes S2 and T1C. As the bus times were not displayed at the station for the first few years of operation, SENRUG has now taken on this responsibility. PLUSBUS is now available at Morpeth (allowing local bus journeys within the Morpeth area to be added to the cost of the rail ticket). However there needs to be a regular bus service of at least 30-minute intervals to make this worthwhile. There is still no bus service to Cramlington station’s bus turning circle.