BLUR musician Alex James has become the latest person to voice his concerns about the Hengistbury Head Noddy train.
Alex, who grew up in Bournemouth and attended St James’ Primary School and Bournemouth School, told the Echo he had a deep affection for the current land train, known to many as the Noddy Train.
Joyce Faris, whose late husband Roger Faris set up the land train service 45 years ago, was given notice to quit by Bournemouth council earlier this month. The 88-year-old said she was devastated at being told she would have to stop running the trains after the summer season.
Alex, a father-of-five who now lives in the Cotswolds, said: “I used to love riding on the Noddy train when I was a kid and I’ve taken my own children on it – and they love it too.
“My parents still live in Hengistbury Head so this is something that is close to all our hearts. The situation really needs to be sorted out.”
An online petition to allow the current operators to continue has now attracted more than 20,000 signatures. And seven local residents have set up a campaign group called HOOT – Hands Off Our Train – to try and seek a way forward in relation to the council’s proposals for the much-loved train.
Bournemouth council did not want to respond to Alex’s comments. It intends to run its own land train service over the Site of Special Scientific Interest from October and has previously stated that it will improve the service with new traditionally-styled trains, increased capacity and shorter waiting times.
It has not yet decided whether it will continue to run trains 364 days a year, but has promised fully-trained staff with Public Service Vehicle licences, access for disabled people and lower fuel emissions.