Following a public meeting at which Great Western Railway executives pledged to make improvements to services on the Tamar Valley line, users of the single track line are still facing frequent cancellations, often with little or no notice, they claim.

On Sunday (May 29) the 9:03, 10:11 and 12:36 services from Gunnislake to Plymouth were cancelled at short notice. According to Great Western Railway’s service app, these were due to a shortage of train crew. Cancellations have continued to occur since passengers’ upset was brought to the attention of GWR bosses last month at a public meeting held in Bere Alston. Local people say the cancellations repeatedly leave them stranded and with no alternative means of travelling to Plymouth when they are dependent on the line’s services for commuting purposes.

Bere Ferrers ward borough councillor Angela Blackman is leading negotiations with GWR and contacted managing director Mark Hopwood and head of public affairs Jane Jones on May 19 and 23, enquiring as to why cancellations were continuing (much to the inconvenience of local residents who are dependent on the service) to no avail.

When local residents took to social media to express frustration at further cancellations this weekend, Cllr Blackman contacted GWR again via email on Monday, copying in MP for Torridge and West Devon Geoffrey Cox, to express her serious concern as to the ‘unacceptable’ and ongoing cancellations and ask what imminent measures would be put in place to prevent them going forward. In this email, she asked why she had not received any response to her previous correspondence and highlighted that services over the weekend had been poor, noting that 30 people had been stranded on Saturday (May 28) between Gunnislake and Bere Alston with no way to reach their destination as alternative transport had not been put in place.

Cllr Blackman then highlighted the resultant safeguarding issues which also occur as a result of these cancellations, illustrating this point with an example given by a local resident of her 88 year old mother who had been stranded in Devonport the previous weekend with no taxi or bus service to escort her home. She further drew contrast to the newly opened Dartmoor Line, (also operated by GWR) running between Okehampton and Exeter, which frequently operates at full service and benefits from better alternative transport means.

Cllr Blackman said: ‘Services improved for the first two weeks after the meeting with the re-introduction of the early morning service on the line from May 16 but since then things have gone downhill and we’re tired of hearing the same excuses. Jane Jones is investigating the nature of the recent cancellations and is speaking with one affected resident directly.’