Friday, 7 February 2014

Go North East Invest £8.5m in New Depot

Go North East have opened a new depot which will accommodate 160 buses and will be home to more than 500 drivers and engineering staff. 

At the opening ceremony Kevin Carr, Go North East managing director, said: “This depot is the culmination of a significant 30 million pound investment programme for our business in the region.


“We’ve bought more than 100 new buses for our services in Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, and Consett and invested £8.5 million in this new facility in Gateshead.”


“We are incredibly proud to have celebrated our 100th year in 2013 and this investment marks our dedication to serving the people of the north east with modern, efficient vehicles."

Mayor & Mayoress of Gateshead, Cllr Jack Graham MBE, David Brown, Go-Ahead group chief executive and Kevin Carr Go North East managing director
David Brown, group chief executive at go-Ahead, said; “Local services are at their best when they are delivered locally by the people who know their customers and the area inside-out. We have more than 2000 employees living and working right here in the North East. They don’t stand apart from the community – they are part of the community. And I would like to pay tribute to all of the staff of Go North East.

“It is only by running a successful, profitable bus company that investment can be made. This brand new depot is solid proof of our long-term commitment to running buses in the north-east. This is an £8m investment which goes alongside the £22m spent on new buses over the last two years; every penny made in the north east has been re-invested in the north east.”

The depot, developed by UKLEP and built by Surgo, breathes new life into 5.75 acres of brownfield land on Handy Drive, which was formerly the site of Dunston Power Station.


The depot's 160 buses will operate on 120 services and drive 163,000 miles a week, with all vehicles returning to the depot each evening to be refuelled and washed over night.


The Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Jack Graham MBE, said: “There are few companies in Gateshead that can trace their history much further back than Go North East, and fewer still that can still claim to be based where they first started, here in Gateshead. With 500 employees based here, Go North East is Gateshead’s largest private sector employer. It gives me great pleasure to officially declare the Go North East Gateshead Riverside open.”

The depot has storage for 140,000 litres of diesel fuel and four spill-free, high tech high speed fuel pumps capable of delivering 90 litres per minute.


The workshop has 15 bus work stations accessed by 21 fully insulated fast action roller shutter doors. Manual handling is virtually eliminated thanks to service poles that have inbuilt electrical distribution, oil, anti-freeze, screen wash, water and air supplies.

 The depot doesn't have pits in the main workshop and instead has three different types of lift

The depot has a VOSA approved MOT testing centre, its VLT test equipment includes brake roller, shaker plates and a state-of-the-art luminscope headlight tester.

Right. Scott Millar from GO North East explains the details of the MOT testing centre 

Gateshead Riverside depot took 50 weeks to construct including 20 weeks for civil engineering work, which included extensive underground work to make safe several large, deep coal dumps from the former power station.

 The depot became operational on the night of 1st/2nd February.

The Mayor unveiled a box containing the original Company Seal press of the Gateshead And District Omnibus Company, bearing the following inscription:

The Gateshead & District Tramways Company began running trams in 1883 and buses in 1913. Gateshead ran electric trams until 1951, when the Company was renamed ‘Gateshead and District Omnibus Company Limited.’ This press dates from 1951 and was used to emboss the Company seal on official documents. This press was placed here by The Worshipful The Mayor of Gateshead, Cllr Jack Graham MBE, to commemorate the official opening of Gateshead Riverside on 28 January 2014 and in recognition of our long tradition of service in Gateshead.”

Go North East, is one of the region’s major bus operators and one of the region’s largest employers, with 2,100 staff employed across seven depots. The company’s 650 buses carry more than 70 million passengers a year. More than 100,000 customers use the company’s innovative ‘key’ smartcard to pay for their travel, making it one of the largest ‘smart’ ticketing schemes outside London. Established in 1913 as the Northern General Transport Company Ltd, Go North East is part of everyday life in the region. During its centenary year the company is investing in more than 100 new vehicles that include passenger innovations such as free wifi, audio visual next stop announcement systems for visually and hearing impaired people, wheelchair and buggy spaces and high-backed coach-type seating.

Focus Comment
The depot has been opened in what could only be described as an uncertain climate with the possible threat of a Quality Contract being imposed on the region by the ITA and Nexus. However, Go North East are taking a positive view that a Quality Partnership will be selected as the best option which will continue the progress made over the past few years whereby services have been improved and tailored to the needs of passengers and satisfaction levels are the best in the country. Some of the facts and figures put forward in favour of the Quality Contract have now been found to be untrue and if those responsible persist with their ideas the whole matter is likely end up in the courts.