A regional bus operator is taking on several services after they were threatened by the closure of a local business.

Weardale Motor Services (WMS) has announced it will soon be able to link Bishop Auckland and the Durham Dales, with the long established 101 bus providing connections from Upper Weardale and down the A688 to Crook and Bishop Auckland.

The existing service will be complemented by the 85 service from Bishop Auckland to Barnard Castle, with further links to Middleton in Teesdale.

While the 101 timetable is unchanged, the schedule for services 84 (Barnard Castle-Ingleton-Darlington), 85 (Bishop Auckland-Barnard Castle) and 95/96 (Barnard Castle-Middleton in Teesdale) will differ from present. Full details on timetables will be available online later this week.

Read more: County Durham bus operator Scarlet Band closes due to 'costs'

WMS will also be the new operator of the 99 service (Shildon-Spennymoor) and 111/115 (Willington-Spennymoor-Greenways). Also included in the new WMS remit is the 108/109 (Bishop Auckland-Willington and Oakenshaw). There will be some slight changes to the timetables.

The existing WMS services 9, 51, 84, 101, 102, 725, 763, 773 will continue unchanged.

Services 764/765 (Wolsingham/Crook-Consett) will see minor changes to route and timetable.

However, Service 81 (Bishop Auckland-Gurney Valley) and 89 (Bishop Auckland-Escomb) will be taken on by another operator due to Durham County Council tender process.

It will begin running the services from October 31, just days after the County Durham operator Scarlet Band closes. The business, which has operated for 101 years, has called time on its service due to rising operational and logistical costs.

Stu Gray, of Weardale Motor Services said: “We are saddened to see another famous independent bus company disappear, but that is a sad indication of the challenges faced in the industry at the moment post Covid.

“Weardale pride ourselves on providing an affordable, reliable, friendly and clean bus service and whilst this is the biggest network of local bus services we have ever provided, it is a very exciting time for us and we look forward to welcoming all customers, old and new, aboard our buses.”

Full list of WMS services

101 – Bishop Auckland-Stanhope

85 – Bishop Auckland-Barnard Castle

84 - Barnard Castle-Ingleton-Darlington

85 - Bishop Auckland-Barnard Castle

95/96 - Barnard Castle-Middleton in Teesdale

99 - Shildon-Spennymoor

111/115 - Willington-Spennymoor-Greenways

108/109 - Bishop Auckland-Willington and Oakenshaw

764/765 - Wolsingham/Crook-Consett

51 - Stanhope-Framwellgate Moor New College

84 - Crook Town Service

101 - Killhope Wheel-Bishop Auckland

102 - Rookhope–Eastgate–Stanhope

725 -Langley Park-Chester le Street

764 - Consett-Wolsingham

765 – Consett-Crook

773 - Consett-Townfield

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