Kenilworth could be without a train service for most of this year as rail bosses struggle to find enough trained drivers.
As we reported last month, rail services stopped in the town due to Covid cut backs, according to West Midlands Trains.
That was the stark message from Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con, Stour and the Vale) following talks with West Midlands Trains and town MP Jeremy Wright.
The matter was raised at today's (Wednesday's) full council meeting when Cllr Jenny Fradgley (Lib Dem, Stratford West) asked what was being done following the suspension of the service at the end of January.
Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con, Stour and the Vale), who alongside the town MP Jeremy Wright has had talks with West Midlands Trains, explained: “We have all fought extremely hard for this line and we are not about to let it go.
“They [West Midlands Trains] are as committed to making this line work as we are and one of the real challenges for them is workforce.
"Their problem is that they have a bit of an aging workforce, they’ve lost a few through retirement and while they have recruited more they haven’t been able to train them because they need in-cab training.
"They have tried to do this with bubbles but have had two or three of them burst.
“I think they are anticipating that they will have the line back up and running in the latter part of this year and our ambition is to increase not just maintain it.”
Cllr Jeff Clarke (Con, Nuneaton East), the portfolio holder for transport and planning, said that up to one in three of staff at West Midlands Trains had been absent due to Covid and this had led to staffing problems.
He read out a statement from the company which said: “Covid-19 is still impacting heavily on West Midlands staff with many not eligible for group vaccinations and, due to the nature and location of the line only, a small cohort of staff have both the route and traction knowledge to operate the trains between Leamington and Nuneaton [which pass through Kenilworth].”
Cllr Keith Kondakor (Green, Weddington), told the meeting he had started a petition calling on Chiltern Railways to take over the service.
He said: “I think it is important to have an operator that operates diesel trains and provides us with journey opportunities and gets over this problem of not having any drivers for our trains until the end of this year maybe.”