As Arriva withdraws much of its Cheshire network, JOHN YOUNG samples services in the region

Arriva North West VDL SB200/Wright Pulsar 2950 (MX09 LXV) arrives in Macclesfield on Saturday 15 April, just one week prior to closure. Over ten years ago, Winsford’s fleet was one of the first to go through the ‘polish and promote’ programme, so they all quickly received the ‘cow’s horns’ version of livery. With Pulsars 2928/9/50 in the original livery at the end of operations, there are more buses in the old livery now than over ten years ago.

The announcement by Arriva of its intention to withdraw from large areas of Cheshire on Saturday April 22, 2023 was not altogether a surprise. In many ways the bigger surprise was that it had not happened sooner. The chosen date was however supremely ironic in being the exact centenary of the erstwhile North Western Road Car Company.

Large parts of Cheshire are not the best of territory for running buses, but a gradual reduction in network coverage and a lacklustre approach to marketing and promotion have done nothing to help Arriva over recent years. Winsford depot and its Macclesfield sub-depot are to close. Winsford replaced the previous bases at Crewe and Northwich, in both cases where the depot was attached to the town’s bus station, with the sites redeveloped. Crewe was always a traditional Crosville location, passing to Midland Red North in 1989 in the Drawlane era. Northwich was absorbed by Crosville upon the break-up of North Western in March 1972, passing to the new North Western in 1990.

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