New operator sought for Northampton bus route after Corby depot closure

The Centrebus route to Northampton could be at risk if no other operator is found.
The Centrebus route to Northampton could be at risk if no other operator is found.

A contract has been put out to tender for a Northampton bus route after Centrebus has announced the closure of its Corby depot.

Service 60 is at risk of being axed if the county council cannot find a new operator to take over from Centrebus, which closes its Corby depot next month.

The route is operated under contract by the county council and subsidised primarily using parish council funding.

But following the announcement of the depot closure - the authority has put out to tender for a new operator on the current timetable.

Service 60 (Welford – Guilsborough - Northampton) also makes stops in Semilong, Kingsthorpe Hollow, Chapel Brampton and Spratton.

Matt Evans, managing director for Centrebus, said: “It is with great regret that we have had to announce the closure of our Corby depot. The depot has been making a loss for the last two consecutive years, largely due to a number of factors which are outside of the company’s control.

"The most challenging of these being: the continual reductions in both local and national government funding, falling passenger numbers and increases in direct operating costs such as fuel, labour and parts. There are also additional operational inefficiencies and disproportionate costs associated with running a small depot site like Corby.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff and customers for their support and loyalty over the past nine years.”

If there is no resolution the Northampton route will be axed on October 26, when the depot closes.

Centrebus has been operating in Northamptonshire since September 2010 after the company took over the former Judges Coaches site.

The depot currently operates 14 buses from the site and a total of nine services.

Northamptonshire County Council said staff are aware of the closure and the company is working with them to provide all the necessary data to enable them to find alternative services for those passengers who will be affected by the closure.

Service W8 (Wellingborough – Bozeat) has now been registered to operate commercially by a new operator.

Services 59 (Welford – Market Harborough) and 60 (Welford – Northampton) are operated under contract to the county council, primarily using parish funding, and NCC is out to tender for a new operator on the current timetable.

Services 8 (Corby – Kettering via Geddington) and 18 (Corby – Thrapston - Raunds) are operated under contract to NCC primarily using developer funding. NCC has gone out to tender for a new timetable for these services which also incorporates all but one journey on current commercial service 16 (Kettering – Thrapston – Raunds).

As well as conveying school pupils on some of these services, Centrebus operate one school bus – from Bishop Stopford School to Redhill Grange – and NCC is going out to tender for a new operator for that.

Councillor Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place, said: “We are pleased that we have been able to come up with alternative proposals in quite a tight timescale and I’d like to thank all of the people involved in making that happen.

“Further details will be released once we have them and everything has been finalised.”