Several bus services threatened with being scrapped or significantly reduced have been saved, as a local campaign to protect them increases. 

Durham County Council has renegotiated a deal with bus operator Arriva regarding four services throughout the county, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands. It comes after Arriva announced changes to its timetables from July 9, which would see several key routes in County Durham and Darlington withdrawn or reduced. 

Residents have warned they could become isolated and unable to leave villages around the region due to the cuts, which would effectively cut areas off from any public transport connections. 

Read more: Proposed cuts to County Durham and Darlington Arriva bus services

One proposed change which has caused particular concern is the X21, Peterlee to Darlington. The service provides a direct link from Trimdon and Peterlee to Newton Aycliffe and Darlington, but is set to be scrapped.

Arriva says reductions in council funding, rising costs and a lack of passengers has forced its hand, but passengers will be able to use some revised services. But, as the ailing bus network in the area is already preventing people from travelling to work or school, residents are fearing the worst.

The local authority says “options are still being considered” around its future, suggesting there could be a compromise for the service between Sedgefield and Newton Aycliffe. 

Better news for residents though is a stable future for the 59 bus between Hartlepool and Durham via Trimdon. “A contract is to be awarded to Stagecoach following open tender to reinstate the hourly service,” Durham County Council said. “This service will replace the current temporary arrangement between Hartlepool and Kelloe with Gateshead Central and will continue to be numbered 59.”

Read more: People fear they won't be able to leave County Durham village if buses are withdrawn

Service 6: Durham to West Auckland


What was proposed 

Service 6 will be revised to operate to a 20‐minute frequency during Monday to Saturday daytimes between Durham and West Auckland. Only some morning and afternoon peak journeys will extend to Cockfield and there will be no service between Cockfield and Barnard Castle. 

Additionally, afternoon Monday‐Friday peak time journeys will be revised to terminate in Durham City Centre and will no longer serve Framwellgate Moor. A small number of journeys will continue to serve Framwellgate Moor in the morning peak with additional journey time. Monday to Saturday evenings will operate normally, with the last bus from Durham revised to be 22:25 and Bishop Auckland at 20:46, owing to unsustainable passenger demand.

What has been negotiated

·      Monday to Saturday daytime: 2 buses per hour beyond West Auckland with 1 per hour to Cockfield and 1 per hour to Ramshaw (current DCC contract service 104 curtailed to terminate at Bishop Auckland instead of Ramshaw to avoid duplication).

·      Monday to Saturday early evening: 1 bus per hour beyond West Auckland to Cockfield.

·      The existing contract for late evening journeys to Cockfield continues.

Service 43: Durham to Esh Winning


What was proposed 

The Saturday frequency of Service 43 will be reduced to every 30 minutes. In addition, evening journeys will be curtailed, with the last bus from Durham City Centre at around 21:25.

What has been negotiated

·      Monday to Saturday: 22:32 from Durham to Esh Winning and return.

·      Friday and Saturday: 23:32 from Durham to Esh Winning.

Service 48 Durham to New Brancepeth


What was proposed 

Sunday Service 48 will be withdrawn.

What has been negotiated

Sunday service: current timetable or close equivalent.

Service X75/X76 Darlington to Barnard Castle


What was proposed 

Sunday journeys on Service X75 will be withdrawn 

What has been negotiated

Sunday service: current timetable or close equivalent.

Read more: Fears Darlington village will be isolated if 'lifeline' bus service is scrapped

Arriva says withdrawing or making significant changes to bus services is “always a very last resort” and the difficult decision has been taken following “exhaustive efforts”, after failing to reach a funding agreement with Durham County Council and Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). 

But the council defended its decision. “[The move to] withdraw or change services is a private one for Arriva although we will work with them and other operators to support alternative provision where we can.

“We have followed government guidance on reimbursing for concessionary journeys at every step and the payments we have offered have been accepted by all other providers we work with.”

Cathy Knight, Durham County Council’s integrated passenger transport manager, said: “We are pleased to have been able to work with Arriva and other providers to secure a number of bus services across the county.

"While the nationwide issue of driver shortages and low passenger numbers is making it difficult for providers to retain all services, these routes will enable residents to stay connected to surrounding areas and key amenities as we continue to work with providers in this challenging market.”