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British transfer coach on fire at alpe d'Huez

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Poster: A snowHead
Latest update in the Telegraph
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/10000040/Alps-bus-crash-caused-by-brake-failure.html
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"All the thoughts of the survivors are with the driver who saved their lives." Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad Crying or Very sad
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Was it a British coach? I note it had a trailer which i didn't think were legal in the UK?

I ask because it might be that UK coache may not be set up as well for Alpine climbs and decents eg. gear ratios, engine power, braking ? But I've no idea really ?
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Peter S, it was a coach from a coach firm in Stanley, Co. Durham . They've been operating in the Alps for a long time, so I would have thought they would be well-versed in the requirements.

Quote:

"All the thoughts of the survivors are with the driver who saved their lives."



Frosty the Snowman, +1
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Quote:

But I've no idea really ?

Err ... shut up then?

Skibound and Classic have been working together for 20 years, shipping school parties to and from the alps both winter and summer. Between them they supply top quality vehicles and experienced drivers who know the routes well.
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What a terrible end to the season. Sympathy to all those affected.
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Frosty the Snowman, very much agree...
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Peter S wrote:
Was it a British coach? I note it had a trailer which i didn't think were legal in the UK?

I ask because it might be that UK coache may not be set up as well for Alpine climbs and decents eg. gear ratios, engine power, braking ? But I've no idea really ?


A trailer behind a coach certainly is legal in the UK. You need to do an extra test to drive it and the coach will have a clearly marked plate on it somewhere that says what weight trailer it can pull, just like any coach, bus or truck.
The type of trailer they were using looks to be the normal ball coupling trailer with over run brakes. just like a caravan or horsebox type trailer. We tow this type of trailer behind one of our HGV's and it tends more to try and hold you back when travelling downhill because more of the trailer weight is pushing on the coupling which then applies the trailer brakes even more.
I don't think there is any such thing as specific "Alpine" buses, they apply a few tweaks to make life easier, but the basic machine will be the same. A coach is only built up from the same basic running gear as a truck anyway, obviously with tweaks to make the ride more comfortable and quiet.
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22192901

The driver has now been named and it appears the thought is that the brakes were at fault.

My deepest sympathy and thoughts with his family.
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Quote:

I don't think there is any such thing as specific "Alpine" buses, they apply a few tweaks to make life easier, but the basic machine will be the same. A coach is only built up from the same basic running gear as a truck anyway, obviously with tweaks to make the ride more comfortable and quiet.

Thank you. Thats helpful.
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albinomountainbadger, et all, The brakes on most commercial vehicles are at best 'adequate' in NO way can they be considered as efficient as a modern car. Diving a coach or a truck in the mountains (and I've been heavy in the Rockies, the Pocanos and Virginia) is a skill created from luck and experience . . . especially when most modern coaches have auto gearboxes and the common touring coach may not have a 'gear lock' the let the compression brake work properly. This was horrible and it's something I face every day in trying to keep 40 tons from rolling over the top of some idiot who thinks my POS handles just like his new SUV.

But in reality it comes down to the experience of the driver and his knowledge of the systems in the vehicle . . . this disaster should never have happened and you cannot call it an accident as there is NO such thing when dealing with a commercial vehicle.

As for 'Jake'/compression brakes . . . they are only a 'retarder' and each is different to the engine. Some work at low revs some at high , but all require the driver to by an integral part of their application in selecting the right gear/speed to negotiate the road.

I'm so sorry the driver died but within my sphere of knowlege it is highly probable that he contributed the most to this mess. Sad
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Quote:

you cannot call it an accident as there is NO such thing when dealing with a commercial vehicle

Commercial vehicles are all perfect and there isn't ever any possibility of mechanical failure or other incident? Can't see it.

More from the Dauphoné here: http://www.ledauphine.com/faits-divers/2013/04/17/questions-autour-d-un-drame
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Masque wrote:
albinomountainbadger, et all, The brakes on most commercial vehicles are at best 'adequate' in NO way can they be considered as efficient as a modern car. Diving a coach or a truck in the mountains (and I've been heavy in the Rockies, the Pocanos and Virginia) is a skill created from luck and experience . . . especially when most modern coaches have auto gearboxes and the common touring coach may not have a 'gear lock' the let the compression brake work properly. This was horrible and it's something I face every day in trying to keep 40 tons from rolling over the top of some idiot who thinks my POS handles just like his new SUV.


That may explain why so many alpine navettes are manuals - I'd never actually seen a manual shift bus before living in Méribel and did remark just how often they have to change.

The latest link to the Dauphiné above seems to cover most details, and theories including age of the coach and it's braking system.

Was beginning to wonder if there could be someone else involved, who disappeared quickly. Those AdH bends are incredibly tight, it's normal practice to stop when you see a coach coming the other way so that he may clear the corner. If someone didn't, but he committed thinking they would, there wouldn't be many options left as to where to go.
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Hmm, the words 'details' and 'theories' should swap places in the message above...
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Masque, a very far reaching statement to say no such thing as an accident with a commercial vehicle.

The BBC are reporting officials investigating the accident as saying he most certainly saved a hell of a lot of lives thrugh his actions....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22195589

...and this from people actually there on the coach.
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jocrad wrote:
Masque, a very far reaching statement to say no such thing as an accident with a commercial vehicle.


Think that's a legal view, heard similar before somewhere. It's something like commercial vehicles (and activities) are held to an higher standard and if something happens then liability must fall somewhere, so the notion of an accident (which is blameless) is redundant. Though Masque might have something else in mind.
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Masque, That's pretty harsh. There are a number of other possibilities to exhaust before blaming the pilot:

Mechanical failure (for whatever reason)
Poor maintenance
Unsuitability of vehicle (although based on the Le Dauphine article it seems unlikely)
3rd party (also seems unlikely)
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Peter S,
Perhaps I should just modify this slightly by saying that there are passes / roads in France where vehicles over a certain weight, whether coaches or trucks, must have a retarder / secondary braking system and some where they are banned altogether, purely because of the length of the descent. The Vizille to Gap road is like that as I remember, at the Gap end you must have a retarder / secondary brake (I am not exactly sure what the sign specifies to be honest) to descend and at the Vizille end there are physical barriers and cctv that means you must turn round if you have ignored the signs for the past 20km or so telling you to divert via Grenoble. (There was a runawy coach accident at the Vizille end a few years ago that resulted in several deaths.)
Both of them are different descents to Alpe d'Huez in that the Vizille end is long, fairly straight and continuous and the Gap one has fairly smooth sweeping bends where the temptation could be to let the vehicle run a bit faster. At Alpe d'Huez in anything bigger than a car you do have to slow down substantially for each bend, especially in a a bigger vehicle where you need to be able to check that the opposite side of the road is clear below the bend to complete your manouvere.
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It has now been confirmed that one of those seriously injured is from this area. Sad

http://www.wrexham.com/news/wrexham-girl-seriously-hurt-after-alps-coach-crash-31140.html
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Masque wrote:
. . . this disaster should never have happened and you cannot call it an accident as there is NO such thing when dealing with a commercial vehicle

I'm so sorry the driver died but within my sphere of knowlege it is highly probable that he contributed the most to this mess. Sad



Crap.
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I think what Masque was trying to say was the opposite of what some of you think. It's an Army attitude, "there are no accidents - there are only opportunities to avert what happens that were not taken", i.e. correct maintenance, operation and skill levels, etc. The approach is that every 'accident' has some blame attached to it therefore it is not an 'accident' in the way most people think of them i.e. an Act of God. There are obviously some true accidents but they are very rare in terms of the approach Masque is advocating.

If a 10 year old snagged the keys to a Jag and crashed it, writing it off, you could say it was 'an accident' but the reality is various people probably cocked up - including the 10 year old driver.

All Masque is trying to say is that someone attempting to do something badly is not ‘accidental’, it’s deliberate but ill considered.

I don’t know what the truth is in this case – I suspect the brakes had not been properly maintained. If it does turn out to be deliberate sabotage one would have to wonder if it relates to that TO/guiding court case that just got decided ……
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RattytheSnowRat, not quite - What he said was that it was the drivers fault.
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Has anyone come accross the investigation results on this?
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By pure coincidence this was in our local paper yesterday / today about a seriously injured survivor :-

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/catrin-pugh-wrexham-woman-who-7055416

For, I think, similar work related reaons to Frosty the Snowman, as well as the fact that I travel up and down that road many times in a year I would also be interested if any investigation results had been published. I have tried the usual google.fr search etc. but have not been able to find anything other than the original press reports of the accident.
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Seasonnaire Catrin Pugh who suffered horrific burns in the coach crash has not only survived, but has recently got back onto skis for the first time, see this report.

All credit to the medical teams, and to Catrin herself for her obvious grit and determination to recover!
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Bit of an update, again from our local paper :-

http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/catrin-pugh-alps-coach-crash-12017635
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Another update :-


http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/we-always-viewed-him-hero-13939267

Note the last part, "The inquest heard the French report concluded the cause had been “the failing of the main brake, the pads of which had been completely destroyed by excessive heating”.

The jury heard this was a result of the “poor condition of the hydraulic retarder”."
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