A COUNTY Durham bus depot which has been in the town for more than 100 years could close for good if a bid to modernise its fleet is successful, it has been claimed.

The Northern Echo understands Go North East's major depot in Chester-le-Street could be made obsolete if its 'Angel 21' fleet is replaced with electric buses in two years' time.

Staff at the depot claim the site is not suitable for the infrastructure needed to charge a fleet of electric buses, due to its age and level of investment needed.

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The company has since responded to the claims, refuting any suggestion that there are plans to close the site which has been open since 1912

The Northern Echo: The depot in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe depot in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

A document showing a bid by transport authority, Transport North East suggests the route could eventually be run from another depot some 15 miles away, if it is successful.

In the document, which outlines how the buses could become operational as early as 2024, it states that charging points for 18 electric buses on the Angel 21 would be located in Gateshead.

This week, the firm began a trial of an electric double-decker bus for use on the popular route, which runs between Newcastle, Chester-le-Street, Durham and Brandon.

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At the time, the company said a number of fully-electric buses had already been introduced in the Newcastle and Gateshead, with plans to have all buses running on either electric or hydrogen by 2035.

However, staff working at the depot fear the bid suggests the company may not choose to invest in the depot on Picktree Lane, which is the "oldest" in the firm and employs hundreds.

The Northern Echo: The Go North East 'Angel 21' service in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTTThe Go North East 'Angel 21' service in Chester-le-Street Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

As a result, they said that all remaining services and staff could eventually be transferred to neighbouring depots, if they lose one of the depot's main routes, as it would no longer be "viable" to run.

Among the Angel 21, other services run from the Chester-le-Street depot include the X21 to West Auckland, the 25 to Langley Park, and the 8 to Stanley.

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In response, the company appeared to refute any suggestion that the depot would close, saying that there is "still a lot of work" to do to finalise the plans from the bid.

Explaining that the Chester-le-Street depot could still feature in the plans if Transport North East's bid is succesful, it said it was trialling an electric bus from the site.

Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director at Go North East, said: "The Transport North East document is a bid to Government, the outcome of which has not yet been decided by them and if it were successful then there would still be a lot of work to do on the final plans, including charging infrastructure. 

"Our Chester le Street depot could be part of that if the bid is successful, in fact we currently have a full electric bus on trial on our popular Angel 21 route running from the depot as we speak."


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