PEOPLE power has secured the future of the existing Hengistbury Head land train, with the current operators set to get a new three-year contract.

Bournemouth council said it had “listened to the people” on the issue of the much-loved train and was now finalising a three-year agreement with current operator Joyce Faris.

The council’s decision to bring the service in-house and end the arrangements that have been in place for 45 years sparked a public outcry, with more than 20,000 people signing an online petition.

Initially leisure and tourism portfolio holder Cllr Lawrence Williams insisted the council would not change its mind but the controversy refused to die down and the council then opened talks with 88-year-old Mrs Faris.

Bournemouth council leader Cllr John Beesley said: “We know that a large proportion of the community holds the current operator in high regard and are very keen that Mrs Faris continues to operate the Head’s land train service.

“That public affection has not gone unnoticed by the council and we have listened to the views of local people.

“As a public body, we have a duty of care for all public assets and I am optimistic that we will be able to reach a solution that both fulfils this duty and supports the wishes of local people.”

The train will continue to operate as normal while the new contract is finalised.

Mrs Faris, whose late husband started the train service, thanked all their staff and everybody who had supported their campaign.

Her mechanic Alan Barnard said: “It’s been amazing to see just how much people love the land train, the support has been incredible.”