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North East secures £1m funding for 'greener' buses

Buses will be cleaner and greener in the North East after Newcastle and Sunderland City Councils received a £472,000 Government transport investment.

The Clean Vehicle Technology Fund pays for modifications to public service vehicles that will reduce 25% the amount of exhaust fumes emitted into the air in the city.

The money will adapt a fleet of 30 buses belonging to Go North East who are also investing more than £600,000 of their own money into the project.

The buses will travel from Newcastle city centre to Blyth in the north and Sunderland in the south.

This investment means the North East leads the way on introducing greener vehicles onto our local roads.

The new technology will improve fuel efficiency while reducing exhaust emissions which means less pollution in the atmosphere and cleaner air for everyone.

– Cllr Nick Forbes

Work to fit the equipment will start in March 2015.


Woman injured as HGV crashes into traffic lights

A section of Bensham Bank in Gateshead is closed after a collision.

Around 5:40pm, a HGV collided with a set of traffic lights on Bensham Bank, causing the traffic lights to fall and injure a woman standing nearby.

Emergency services attended and the pedestrian has been taken to hospital.

A section of one lane of Bensham Bank road is currently closed and diversions in place, it is expected to be closed until around 8:30pm.

Officers are in the area speaking to motorists.

Enquiries are ongoing and anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to contact police.

East Coast profits hailed as £217m returned to taxpayer

East Coast trains Credit: Martin Keene/PA

Big profits for publicly-owned East Coast trains, which links London with East Anglia, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, have meant a return of almost £217 million to taxpayers.

Directly Operated Railways (DOR), which runs the train line for the Department for Transport (DfT), has said it made a pre-tax operating profit of £225.3 million in 2013/14.

This has resulted in the DfT receiving £216.8 million in premium and dividend payments.

DOR has run East Coast since November 2009 after the private sector operator National Express pulled out.

But the Government is taking the East Coast franchise private again, with a new private sector operator due to start at the end of March 2015.

Department for Transport defend rail fare rises

Northern Rail have increased fares for some evening services after the Department for Transport asked them to look at several options to help reduce subsidy as part of its current franchise agreement.

The result, an increase in rail fares of up to 117% for some travellers, has been met with anger by the RMT.

But the Department for Transport says the changes are necessary to achieve their "long-term plan" of creating a better rail network:

These changes will help us achieve our long-term plan of building a rail network that is better for the passenger and better value for the taxpayer. Such restrictions are relatively common on other parts of the network and we expect only a minority of passengers to be affected.

By contrast, the vast majority of commuters will benefit from yesterday’s announcement that average commuter fare rises will be frozen in real terms next year, for the second year running.

– A DfT spokesperson


£4.5m bridge planned for Middlehaven Dock entrance

New bridge planned for Middlehaven Dock entrance Credit: Middlesbrough Council

A new swing bridge has been proposed to be built at the entrance to Middlehaven Dock to improve access to the area and pave the way for further development.

The proposed £4.5 million bridge will complete the road network serving the north of the town, connecting Greater Middlehaven and Riverside Park with an east-west spine road running parallel to the A66 and linking directly to it at either end.

The development aims to create further opportunities for the regeneration of the Dock as a marina and centre for water sports and general recreational and leisure use.

If approved, construction of the bridge is expected to start in Spring 2015 and will take around 12 months to complete.

Northern Rail say the majority 'will be unaffected'

Northern Rail have said the fare increases will not affect 'the majority of customers'.

The company have increased fares for some evening services after the Department for Transport asked them to look at several options to help reduce subsidy as part of its current franchise agreement.

Northern Rail commercial director Richard Allan said: "The majority of customers who travel at peak times will be unaffected by these changes but we want to make sure that those who are know about what is happening and what options are available to them."

Rail fares to rise by up to 117% in the North East

Rail travellers in the North East face fare rises of up to 117% following the axing of some off-peak fares.

The price rise affects evening services run by the Northern Rail train company.

The RMT union is marking the Northern Rail rise by launching protests against the plans for the new Northern franchise and also for the new franchise for TransPennine Express.

The union says the rises are "a kick in the teeth for the travelling public" and a "taste of what's around the corner under the new franchises".

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) also attacked the Northern rises, saying they would particularly hit part-time and shift workers:

This fare increase threatens to make rail travel unaffordable to tens of thousands of part-time workers.

Despite Government promises, there are no flexible tickets for the increasing numbers who work part time or anything other than traditional nine-to-five hours.

Their only option is to pay for individual tickets, which will now be double the price on Northern Rail's most popular routes.

– Martin Abrams, CBT public transport campaigner
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