Industry battles the elements as Storm Desmond strikes

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The coach and bus industry has been battling through severe weather over the last few days as Storm Desmond hit the north of the UK.

Stagecoach North West is one of the operators most affected by the conditions. Commercial Manager for Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancashire, Michael Sanderson, told CBW that the operator’s Carlisle depot was still underwater on Monday, December 7, though thankfully all of the vehicles were evacuated on Saturday, December 5 before the flood waters reached the depot.

He said: “Thankfully none of our vehicles have been involved in any incidents and our customers and staff are safe. Our thoughts are with those who have been effected by the flooding from Storm Desmont – some of our employees’ homes are underwater.

“Everybody who has been able to make it has come in and is coping marvellously with the conditions.”

The last time there was flooding in Carlisle, Stagecoach lost its entire fleet in the city. The vehicles were operating from a truck stop at junction 42 of the M6 as CBW went to press, though the operator is looking for a more medium term solution.

Michael continued: “Our Kendall depot escaped flooding and the vehicles are still there, but operations in the town are very challenging because a couple of bridges are closed. Lancaster is also effectively split in two because two bridges are awaiting safety inspections.

“In Barrow all services are fine aside from the 6 and X6, while all services are operating in Workington aside from the X4 and X5.

“We have lots of services out there but there are a number of diversions in place. We’re keeping customers regularly updated every few minutes through social media and the new Stagecoach website, which both seem to be working really well.”

Meanwhile, a driver for Bus Vannin in the Isle of Man escaped unharmed when a bridge collapsed underneath his empty bus on Thursday, December 4, leaving the vehicle  stuck upside-down in the river Old Laxey. A complicated salvage operation, which involved moving gas pipes and overhead power cables, was due to take place over the weekend at the earliest

A statement from Bus Vannin read: “We are working with emergency services to recover the bus.

“We’re happy to report there were no passengers on-board.

“The vehicle was going over the bridge to turn on the coach area of the promenade when the bridge collapsed.

“The driver got out safely.”

Bus Vannin’s depot has also been flooded, and it is currently operating from a ferry terminal whilst clean-up from Storm Desmond commences.