THE roof of a double-decker bus has been torn off after it ploughed through a bridge in Portchester.
The accident happened at around 9.37am at the railway bridge in Hill Road. The top deck of the First Bus vehicle was completely ripped off in a carbon copy of a crash at the same spot involving another of the company’s buses five months ago.
Police, paramedics and fire crews from Portchester and Cosham were sent to the scene, but there were no injuries. The bus was out of service at the time and the only person on board was the driver.
PC Lisa Oliver, of Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, said: ‘The bus has come down Station Road and not realising he’s in a double decker has gone under the bridge and the roof has come off.
‘Paramedics are looking at the driver now.
‘It was lucky no one was on board.’
First Bus said in a statement that the exact circumstances of the accident were not immediately clear but they were being thoroughly investigated.
A spokesman for First Bus Hampshire and Dorset added: ‘Knowing that there will inevitably be questions about the fact that there was a seemingly similar incident in the same place last year, we have the following to add to the above.
‘We are as concerned by this incident as we suspect other local people will be. The exact cause of it is being investigated and the appropriate action will be taken as a result. It is too early to speculate as to what the outcome of the investigation will be.
‘In relation to the previous incident, the cause of that was determined to be human error and the appropriate action was taken as a result.
‘As a company we take the safety of our staff, customers and other road users extremely seriously. Incidents such as this are rare and it is unusual for two similar incidents to happen in the same place. The cause of today’s collision is being thoroughly investigated.’
Local resident Mrs Pat Tiller said: ‘The top of the bus has gone and they have put a white cover over it. The trains have been stopped and traffic is diverted.
‘I can’t understand how it has happened again. Surely it is obvious that a double-decker bus will not go under that bridge.’
Another eyewitness said: ‘I came round the corner and saw that there was a bus with part of the top deck off. There were two police cars two fire engines and an ambulance there.’
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, trains were delayed for around 30 minutes and traffic had to be diverted.
South West Trains said delays had been caused by a need to ensure the bridge was structurally sound. Engineers gave it the all-clear within 30 minutes of the accident.
A spokesman for Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘We received a call at 9.40am to say that a double decker bus had collided with a railway bridge. There were no passengers on board, only the driver. The road is closed from Station Road to Kelvin Grove and Station Road to The Crossway. Recovery for the bus is being arranged and an ambulance was called for the driver.’
The vehicle in the incident last September was also owned by First Bus and the firm vowed then to carry out a thorough investigation.
The roof of the bus was torn off as it ploughed into the bridge over Station Road near Portchester station On September 5. Only the driver was on board.
Witnesses described the shattered remains of the roof lying underneath the bridge as emergency crews dealt with the scene.
Click here for our story on the crash last September