National Express West Midlands welcomes arrest of arsonists

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National Express West Midlands says it welcomes the arrest of a 20 year old man and a 17 year old boy who were detained in Solihull on Monday evening, on suspicion of arson following a number of recent attacks on its route 49 which caused significant damage to vehicles and resulted in disruption for passengers, though nobody was injured.

At approximately 1645hrs on Monday 8 January, the driver of a National Express West Midlands bus on service 49 contacted emergency services after two people had attempted to set fire to seats on the top deck of the bus. Police officers subsequently carried out a search of the area where the two people had alighted and later detained a man and teenager.

The 20-year-old man and 17-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of arson and have also been questioned about three other fires that have taken place on National Express West Midlands buses in Solihull over recent weeks. They have since been released on bail while police continue their enquiries.

Chief Operating and Safety Officer for National Express Mark Heffernan said: “Thanks to our drivers’ immediate actions to help protect our customers, everybody on board was evacuated safely and nobody was injured during these recent incidents. But this could have easily been a very different outcome. The dangerous and mindless actions of these arsonists have caused significant disruption for our customers and costly damage to our vehicles. It means our customers are without a bus while we repair and replace the vehicles.

“We are grateful for the quick work of the police this week with the arrest of these individuals and will continue to work closely together as the investigations continue.”

Inspector Lee Davies from the West Midlands Safer Travel Police team, said: “The Safer Travel policing team are working closely together with National Express West Midlands and Transport for West Midlands to eradicate this kind of behaviour on public transport and positive action will be taken against anyone committing such acts. Buses provide an essential service to local communities and we want to do everything that we can to create a safe environment where passengers feel safe. Crime, especially when it threatens the safety of others will not be tolerated.”