At around 1pm today a serious accident involving three buses and two cars occurred southbound on the Chelsea Bridge Road, between Ranelagh Gardens and the old Chelsea Barracks site.  Early images posted on Twitter showed three seriously damaged vehicles, a car, a Wright Electrocity hybrid and a New Bus for London.  Both buses had significant front end damage, the front left of the Electrocity (WHY4, I suspect) and the front right of the NB4L, which appeared to have damage to most of the front end including the nearside headlight and the glass on both decks.  Damage to the other two vehicles, another car and an Enviro400 operating on the 452, was not visible.  As of 8pm the road remains closed, which suggests a collision involving a serious injury at least.

The road is not on the 38, 24 or 11 routes although it is fairly close to Victoria which is served by all three, Sloane Square (on the 11) and Pimlico (on the 24) and bus routes in Westminster would have been seriously disrupted for the Tour of Britain cycle race.

However only the newly converted 11 route would normally be expected to see out of service buses heading south from the Westminster area as the garage is at Stockwell.  London Vehicle Finder suggests that out of the seven NB4L vehicles in service over the first weekend (LT42/43/46/55/58/69/62) LT62 is currently not in service, having been last seen just before 1pm today in the Westminster area (curiously heading east at the time).  It is thus feasible that a brand new bus was involved in the crash on its second day of service.

A possible eyewitness was a Twitter user called onTheRiverDave who set up an account this evening. If what he’s hinting at is true there are some serious questions to ask Go-Ahead and TfL’s press offices tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: The collision (which thankfully seems to have involved injuries rather than fatalities, the lengthy road closure being due to diesel spillage) is beginning to get attention now the working week has begun.  Links:

MayorWatch reports the police as stating the bare facts of the collision as:

the driver of a Routemaster bus collided with a line of stationary traffic from the rear

We expect the BBC and Evening Standard to cover it today as eyewitness David Wortley (onTheRiverDave mentioned above) has been in touch with them.  I’ve no doubt now he saw what he reported which is disturbing enough:

I witnessed this today. The Boris Bus ran a red light narrowly missing a yellow car, and sped passed, probably doing 30mph…

The bus then smashed into a stationary car and 2 buses, sounds like stuck throttle or no brakes!

1 car seriously damage, crushed, many people jumped from the buses. Emergency crews on scene very quickly

[Obviously the question of driver error or mechanical failure is not one we can settle either way at the moment until accident investigators have done their job.]

Finally there’s a bus fan’s review of the first day NB4L use on the 11 including a very slow trip on LT62 which appears not to have been well.  Quote:

However, I do not think that phasing them in has helped with the service, Borismasters holding more passengers than that of the specified highest capacity number today (as people were forced to sit and stand on the staircases). If Borismasters are to operate on route 11, then the peak vehicle requirement needs to increase now – even if there are still a few WVLs operative on the route.

Second update – LT62 has suffered quite extensive front end damage according to this picture.  I’d say the driver is fortunate only to be in hospital.

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