RESIDENTS and visitors of Hengistbury Head have been left disgruntled after its popular land train service was unable to run for a number of days over the Christmas period.

This comes just days before the land train’s services are due to stop from Sunday January 5 until the spring half term for annual inspections and a per-season service. The exact date of when the land train will be back in service is not known.

Although the land train was running on New Years Eve and New Years Day, the service was cancelled on Saturday December 28 and Friday January 3 due to staff illness.

In late November, the BCP Council announced they would be selling the tradition noddy trains as they were deemed unsafe.

Campaigner Gemma Brazier launched a petition last year calling for the temporary service to be scrapped in favour of the Noddy Train's return.

She said: “I was a regular user of the land train, but now I have no interest in using it.

"The meetings that were held when they were considering scrapping it were absolutely packed

"At those meetings, it seemed as though the council tried to find every excuse to get rid of it, they were trying to put obstacles in the way."

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation was launched in October 2018 following an incident in which a cyclist was injured when two carriages broke loose from the train.

As a result of the investigation, the council were told they would not be permitted to run the old-style trains without drastic work to meet new Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) standards.

Residents have shown their annoyance of the recent cancellations on the Hengistbury Head Land Train Facebook page, many saying that there had never been this problem before.

Gemma added: “The land train had no problems in the 30 years it ran before until this freak accident.

“It seems like they have used it as their excuse to get rid of it.

“Before moving her, I used to go to Hengistbury Head as part of my holidays and remember using the train then, so I have seen it from both angles.

“It is unique, it is iconic, and it is part of our heritage.”

The current service will stop after Sunday January 5, with the intention for the service to continue in time for the spring half term.

The Land Rover service will still operate in January on a pre-booking only service, with three working days’ notice required for bookings.