Meeting over 'near miss' bus scare

A BUS company owner has been called to an urgent meeting with county council officers today after one of his vehicles packed with schoolchildren was nearly hit by a train.

By Richard Smith

A BUS company owner has been called to an urgent meeting with county council officers today after one of his vehicles packed with schoolchildren was nearly hit by a train.

The owner of the Running Footman fleet of buses, based at Martlesham Creek industrial park, and Suffolk County Council will consider the future of school routes in the Woodbridge area following last Friday's near miss on a level crossing.

Meanwhile, British Transport Police has confirmed that it has launched an investigation after complaints were received that a bus with Farlingaye High School pupils ignored a red flashing light and drove over the level crossing at Melton.


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It is alleged an oncoming train had to sound its horn and brake to avoid hitting the double-decker 74-seater bus which was taking children home to the Hollesley area after school.

The county council immediately ended the contract with the Running Footman for that particular school route - but the council emphasised yesterday that the company was still allowed to operate other routes in the areas.

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Guy McGregor, the county's portfolio holder for roads and transport said: “The contract for the route involved in the incident on Friday has been terminated. The young people involved in the incident last week are now being carried by Ipswich Buses.

“The driver involved in the incident has been removed from driving duties related to all county council contracts.

“We are co-operating fully with British Transport Police who are investigating this particular incident and the proprietor of the bus company has agreed to meet with Suffolk County Council officials today so that appropriate action can be taken. The safety of the young people using the service is our main concern.”

The bus company is based in Sandy Lane, Martlesham, and yesterday there were seven coaches, five of which were displaying schoolchildren signs, parked outside the workshop.

Staff were working on a bus and they were reluctant to talk about the incident.

The Running Footman is known as East Anglia's classic coach operator and on its website tributes have been paid to the drivers by various groups, including Felixstowe Friendly Visiting Service and Woodbridge Salvation Army.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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