'Bendy buses' taken off London streets in fire probe

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The Independent Online

All London's "bendy buses" have been taken off the streets for "modifications" following three separate fires, it was announced today.

All London's "bendy buses" have been taken off the streets for "modifications" following three separate fires, it was announced today.

An independent investigation was launched on Monday into the fires on route 436, the latest of which was on Saturday when passengers of one of the ultra-long buses escaped unhurt after it burst into flames in Park Lane, central London.

The driver also managed to escape but the bus was gutted.

Transport for London (TfL) said today that the buses had been withdrawn from service for modifications on the advice of Mercedes to the contracted operators.

Hans Smits, managing director of manufacturer Evobus UK - part of the Mercedes group - said: "Based on the results of the technical investigation into the Mercedes Benz Citaro bendy bus fire of last Saturday, Evobus have decided that certain modifications to all Citaro buses in London are necessary.

"In order not to take any risk, these vehicles have been taken out of service until these modifications have been completed.

"Modification work has started and will be completed within one week. After implementation, these vehicles can be operated without restriction."

The buses, part of the fleet of Citaro buses in use in London, are operated by London Central bus company.

The decision follows a meeting of representatives from the company, TfL and Evobus yesterday to discuss the situation.

Afterwards, a TfL spokeswoman said: "It's been agreed that an independent review be held into the three fires, with a report hopefully being made by the end of April.

"We have also asked for the Fire Brigade and the Department for Transport's Vehicle Inspectorate to be involved in the review."

The Park Lane incident followed two other fires in recent weeks - one at Edgware Road and another at Camberwell.

As a result of the withdrawal of the bendy buses, there were limited services on some routes and extra buses on others today with no service on route 521.





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