Fears for passengers in horror ride

(With apologies to fans of the 1994 movie Speed, starring Keanu Reeves. In the remake, Pace, the part of the heroic bus driver is played by Simon Stevens.)

A man is threatening to blow up a speeding bus containing 50 million terrified passengers unless the government pays him £350m a week.

The driver blamed the government for planting the bus, which had originally been designed to blast Britain out of Europe. He vowed to keep blowing it up in the media until the government met his demands for NHS funding.

“If this bus stops, I’m in a lot of trouble,” the driver told a press conference via Skype. “It’s up to you to keep it going.”

Experts said the real reason the bus could not be stopped was because it didn’t really exist. They also questioned whether the man would carry out his threat.

A spokesman for the prime minister dismissed the scare as “a reckless stunt by a publicity seeker” and said the government would not give in to civil servants.

But the man, thought to be a disgruntled NHS employee, said: “I’m not bluffing. I have a plan and I’m prepared to use it. Well, not a plan exactly…”

Witnesses said it was not clear whether a message written on the side of the bus in large letters was a ransom demand or a resignation letter.

Breaking: Hostage crisis latest – the man now says he will start “missing targets one by one” if his demands are not met.

Traffic news editor: Julian Patterson