Drivers suspended after switching seats at 60mph

Picture: Carey Tompsett/PA Wire

UPDATE: Portsmouth-London train line reopened after ‘significant damage’ to railway

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POMPEY fans have told of their horror as the coach driver taking them to Saturday’s away game got out of his seat while travelling at 60mph.

Passengers told how they watched in disbelief as one driver on the Vision Travel coach got up, while still holding the wheel, and another took his place.

It caused the 50-seater coach to lurch violently from left to right, almost ending up in a ditch on the A34 on the way to Middlesbrough.

Vision Travel, which is Portsmouth FC’s official travel partner, acted quickly, sending another driver to meet the coach at the Riverside stadium in Middlesbrough and suspending the two drivers involved.

Paul Smith, of Brightside, Waterlooville, said he was horrified when he realised what was happening.

‘I was listening to my iPod just before 8am when we suddenly violently lurched across the lanes,’ said 54-year-old Mr Smith.

‘Stuff was falling from the overhead racks and then we lurched back again. I just thought “What the hell is going on?” Then, remarkably, the guy who had been driving the coach was coming down the aisle to use the toilet at the back of the coach. Reality quickly sunk in. They’d switched coach drivers whilst we were doing 60mph along the motorway. It’s the sort of stunt you’d expect Indiana Jones or James Bond to pull off but not a coach driver on the way to a Pompey away game.

‘It certainly made the old heart beat a bit faster for a few minutes.’

Fifteen-year-old Paul Fletcher was sitting behind the driver when the coach lurched.

The King Richard School pupil said: ‘It was really, really scary. We could see what they were about to do and we couldn’t believe they were doing it. Some people were really upset, everything was falling down around us. It was horrible.’

Peter Sharpe, the owner of Vision Travel, which is based in Cosham, said a full investigation will take place today calling on both drivers and stewards on the coach to explain what happened.

He added: ‘I know one of the guys was sick because he was very poorly all day.

‘We sent up another driver but I still don’t know exactly what happened. The passengers were shaken up apparently but until I know exactly what happened I can’t really comment.’