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November 29 2017
By Mel Holley

A former routeone editor, Mel has more than 30 years’ experience in road and rail transport journalism.

Coroner calls for ‘better guidance’

A coroner is to write to coach manufacturers calling for them to give improved guidance on how to use gearboxes’ automatic modes on coaches, during long descents.

It follows an inquest into the death of coach driver Maurice Wrightson, 63, from Ashington, Northumberland, in April 2013 when his coach crashed in the Alps and caught fire.

The jury returned a verdict of death as the result of multiple injuries in a road traffic accident.

The inquest heard that the Volvo B12B, operated by Classic Coaches - part of the Arriva-owned TGM Group - suffered brake failure around 50 minutes into its long descent down the 14km hill, with gradients up to 1-in-9. A UK police report found no vehicle faults.

The Berkhof-bodied coach was fitted with an I-Shift gearbox, being operated in automatic mode. The coroner said insufficient information is provided by coach manufacturers about how automatic settings should be used when going down hills.

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