Northern Ireland

Double decker bus strikes bridge prompting safety investigation

Stuck bus
Image caption BBC Ireland correspondent Chris Buckler took these pictures at the scene near Helen's Bay

A safety investigation is under way after a double decker struck a railway bridge in a County Down village and appeared to become stuck.

The bus hit the bridge near Helen's Bay on Thursday night, when it was being used as a rail substitution service.

Translink confirmed double decker buses should not be used in the village because the bridges are too low.

On Friday morning, Translink staff, including railway engineers, tried to manoeuvre the vehicle under the bridge.

At one stage, air had to be removed from the bus tyres in order to remove it from under the bridge.

The bus was damaged, but Translink have said the bridge remained intact.

Part of the inquiry will investigate why a double decker bus was used on the route.

Translink said a full investigation was under way as the bus had been used as a substitute for the Belfast to Bangor train.

A Translink spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that an incident occurred last night (6 November) at approximately 9pm in which a double decker Ulsterbus struck a railway bridge at Helen's Bay, North Down.

Image copyright chris buckler
Image caption Translink said the bus was being 'manoeuvred' under the bridge on Friday

"The bus was removed from the scene and parked locally overnight.

"This morning, the bus travelled back from Helen's Bay to Belfast."

In a further statement the company said: "We can confirm that the vehicle which was involved in a bridge strike on Thursday evening, November 6th, was at no time stuck under the bridge and struck only one bridge on route to Helen's Bay train station.

"We will be conducting a thorough investigation into the incident and will be reviewing CCTV footage from the vehicle as part of this investigation."

BBC Ireland correspondent Chris Buckler was at the scene and said the bus was lodged under bridge for about half an hour.

He said: "Translink staff were climbing up ladders to try to find a way of getting the bus out from under the bridge.

"The top right hand side of the bus had already been damaged.

"But their biggest concern seemed to be ensuring they didn't damage the railway bridge which carries trains on the busy Belfast to Bangor line.

"Some of the staff had to direct traffic around the bus as they tried to find a way of manoeuvring it out from the low bridge."

On Thursday, the same underpass was flooded when heavy rains affected north Down.