Several threatened bus services throughout the region have been saved after the provider closed its business.

Scarlet Band was a well-known name on bus routes throughout County Durham and Darlington – but shocked passengers when it announced it would cease operating at the end of October. The company blamed a lack of driving, engineering staff and supply chain issues for the closure.

Just one Darlington service – the number 16 from Hummersknott and Mowden to North Road/Glebe Road via the hospital and the town centre – is affected by the closure but 25 services in towns and villages throughout County Durham have been forced to look for new owners.

Durham County Council said it has retained 22 services after finding new operators, however three will be suspended next month until providers can be found.

The Northern Echo: Graeme Torrance, owner of Scarlet Band bus company. Picture: DAVID WOODGraeme Torrance, owner of Scarlet Band bus company. Picture: DAVID WOOD (Image: The Northern Echo)

Read more: Darlington Scarlet Band bus service to end in October

They are: the 35A running between Ferryhill and Bishop Auckland between 10.10pm and 11.10pm; the 81 between Bishop Auckland and Gurney Valley at 12.08pm; and the 113 between Ferryhill and Sedgefield at 12.20pm and the 12.47pm return service. 

The 112 Monday to Friday daytime service between West Cornforth, Ferryhill and Spennymoor will cease operating, with existing Arriva services providing alternative links.

Weardale Motor Services, Hodgson’s Coaches and Gateshead Central will operate the routes, in most cases with identical or very similar timetables, although passengers have been warned to expect some delays and changes.

The Northern Echo: Bus services throughout the North East have been affected by cuts and closuresBus services throughout the North East have been affected by cuts and closures (Image: Stuart Boulton)

Cathy Knight, Durham County Council’s integrated passenger transport manager, said: “After Scarlet Band, which runs subsidised bus routes in the county on our behalf, informed us that it is to cease trading at the end of this month, we worked quickly to ensure that almost all services will be maintained.

“Pending further staff recruitment, some services operated by Hodgson’s Coaches will initially run to slightly reduced timetables.

“However, full timetables will be restored as soon as possible. Our website will be updated to reflect the changes.

“We are confident that the new arrangements will work well.”

Councillors in Darlington have pledged to ‘explore all the options’ in a bid to ensure passengers aren’t left stranded, and hope to find a new operator for the number 16 service.

Scarlet Band said rising costs and staff shortages contributed to closing the business.

“Over the last couple of years we have struggled with a shortage of skilled staff, shortage of spare parts, increasing fuel prices, increasing tyre prices, increasing utility prices,” director Graeme Torrance said. “All of that put a strain on the company.”

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