GREAT Western Railway’s head of public affairs Jane Jones has responded to Bere Ferrers ward borough councillor Angela Blackman regarding ongoing cancellations of rail services on the Tamar Valley Line.

Cllr Blackman recently declared her intention to issue a formal complaint against GWR to the Department for Transport concerning GWR’s running of the line. This course of action followed a public meeting with Jane Jones and three other executives about this matter in early May which sought to identify solutions in restoring full services to affected rail users on the Bere peninsula.

In an email, shared publicly by Cllr Blackman on July 13, Jane Jones, using performance graphs, pointed out that provision of weekday services on the line had improved significantly in the last six months, along with restoration of the early morning service, but stated that the current level of service still ‘isn’t perfect’ and confirmed there are ‘continuing problems with cancellations at the weekend’ due to staff shortages and one recorded train fault incident.

In response to Cllr Blackman’s suggestion that drivers operating on the newly reopened Dartmoor Line could cover driver shortages on the Tamar Valley Line, she stated this was not possible as drivers on the Okehampton line do not have specific traction and route training (the former concerning the specific model of train in use). She went on to say that the driver shortages were a result of GWR’s pool of spare drivers not yet being fully restored due a training backlog having built up as a result of restrictions caused by the pandemic, which is in turn continung to cause cancellations.

She stated: ‘We need to do better and that is something that we are working on. We have a project team set up and we are meeting with First Transport Solutions and station staff to discuss how we can improve on road replacement and station information.’