Why does travelling to Sunderland by public transport take so damn long?

Tyneside Map

If you live in Tyneside area you’ll know that its a real pain to get anywhere south of the river using public transport. Your only options are to sit on the Metro for 45-90 minutes as it stops at every stop going around the system before you finally get to your destination in Sunderland; worse still if you happen to want to go further south to Middlesborough or further afield.

Sure, we have services like buses and the North Shields ferry; but to be honest these are really slow and not suited to regular, commuter passenger journeys. In the end, Metros or changing buses are the only option; and to be frank the journey times are joke.

Journey’s take should 30-40 mins end up taking anywhere between 1-2 hours by public transport.

For the past ten or so years I’ve tried to find quicker, faster routes to go south from anywhere East of Newcastle; bus hubs like Four Lane Ends offers no southern bus routes and the only irregular bus services are in North Shields which travels via the Tyne Tunnel to Jarrow; thereafter you are needing to change again for another service.

In the past there used to be the 319 bus service that ran from Cramlington to Sunderland; and for me I found this journey was faster and cheaper than the Metros.

Getting limited stop, express buses from Sunderland to Newcastle are also a pain. There used to be the X4; but sadly this no longer exists and the so-called express buses from Sunderland are nothing of the kind, stopping at virtually every stop.

Of course one could use the National express bus service; these are dedicated services, but these are not practical for regular commuting.

So what’s the answer? For me, for a quick win would be this:

Put on more bus services that run through the Tyne Tunnel

With the duelling and upgrades the A19/A1056 roundabout system, I see why services cannot start running through the tunnel, servicing the south using a limited stop service.

But a more bolder approach would be;

Build another rail station in East Newcastle, nearer to Whitley Bay

This would mean creating a new Tyne Tunnel for rail services. Why not a bridge? The river is used regularly for maritime industries and the space is required for large vessels to traverse the River Tyne.

I’m not sure if its logistically possible, or if the foundational bedrock under the River Tyne would support such a tunnel, but when I look at the Billion pounds invested in London’s cross-rail services; one can easily think — why can’t we have that?

My own crappy drawing relies on the old rail lines that existed in the area; most of this is now walking areas and perhaps is impractical or unrealistic or would cause a local uproar to re-appropriate this for rail lines.

A new rail station in the East would do so much to reduce traffic, and create a hub for public transport and cut journey times by half.

Perhaps I’ve played Transport Tycoon too much, perhaps I look at the CrossRail services in London wondering if the North East will ever rebuild its networks; but regardless, I still believe a better infrastructure, even if its with direct, limited stop buses that traverse the Tyne Tunnel would be still be a better option than sitting on the Metro or forcing all public transit through the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Just my two cents.