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Coroner calls for ‘better guidance’

By The Whisperer

With many years in the coach and bus industry, The Whisperer keeps his ear to the ground for all the latest tit-bits and gossip. Tell him what’s going on in your part of the world: e-mail him via

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.