Reading the following article from the ChronicleLive, the huge positive effect of the Tall Ships in 2016 is still to be widely felt over the coming months.
Having travelled from well outside of Blyth on the final day (Monday) to see the ships sail, I was amazed at just how busy the port area was with people! Many appeared to using the busy park and ride service, with many buses passing us full laden on their way out of Blyth after the last ship has sailed.
From the number of people reckoned to have attended (estimates mentioned in the article (link) suggest 1/2 million through Blyth), highlight the role a rejuvenated Ashington, Blyth and Tyne could potentially play in the transport mix. This follows on from record numbers attending Woodhorn at the Weeping Window Poppies, seeing record numbers of people in attendance last year. This shows the vast numbers willing to travel to these big events, with about 500,000 at Blyth recently and 120,000 at Woodhorn.
However, one under-utilised aspect of the transport mix, with car being dominant is the railway, both of the events above were reasonably close, especially Woodhorn, to potential station sites, which may have allowed fewer people to take the car, overwhelming local roads and swallowing up large car parking areas; or alternatively, a greater number of people, particularly those further afield may travel to the event.
One such example of this is the Great Goodbye at Shildon, which saw similar overall numbers to Woodhorn, in a shorter time-span, but also saw a diesel charter train on February 23rd from as far as Kings Cross in London, operated by Steam Dreams. Indeed the same article suggests that ‘…Travelling by rail to Shildon is easy…’.
Understandably, a A, B & T rail service would need a long-term strategy, and would need to attract a reasonable number of passengers day-in, day-out to be a true success, however, it’s role in big events could be something to consider for the future?