A railway company has apologised after schoolchildren were left stranded outside school on two occasions last week.
Transport for Wales (TfW) said youngsters were left at Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn last Wednesday and Friday when “a number of unforeseen operational issues” meant they were unable to provide enough rail replacement buses.
Concerned parent Richard Blakemore contacted the Cambrian News when he heard some youngsters were stranded until 8pm last Wednesday.
His children were not among those stranded but he is concerned they might be as work to restore Barmouth Viaduct continues. The work means trains are not running at the moment and a replacement bus service is in place.
There was a further issue last Friday when some pupils were once again unable to get a bus home straight after school.
TfW said it understands this is an important route for local school children and apologised for the inconvenience caused.
Mr Blakemore has written to Gwynedd councillor for Barmouth Rob Triggs and the school, with his concerns.
His email to the councillor said: “I would be grateful if you, could assist in getting to the bottom of a concerning problem of school children being left stranded in Tywyn after school. I believe nine children were stranded [Wednesday] evening and were still in Tywyn at 8pm, waiting for buses that did not arrive to take them back to Barmouth.
“From talking to the school’s deputy head, I believe the school had a teacher stay with the children when she was alerted by a passer-by of the stranded children, eventually requesting the school caretaker to pick up the school minibus and drive the children back to their parents in Barmouth. A totally unacceptable situation unresolved by Transport for Wales who repeatedly promised buses that did not arrive.”
Mr Blakemore has also contacted TfW, provider of the replacement bus service.
He was told there were problems on the rail replacement route due to flooding/weather, and a case reference has been raised with TfW.
“In short, juveniles, vulnerable persons, were left stranded in Tywyn for in excess of five hours with no solution offered other than the school’s actions – this is unacceptable,” Mr Blakemore's email added.
“The kids needs to be managed into a bus that arrives on-time with capacity for them every day. It happens without fail each morning on the trip from Barmouth to the school, why is the return journey any different?
“I would like to know how we got to the situation [on Wednesday], and I would like, on behalf of the parents who send the children on this service, to know and have assurance it won’t happen again.
“What are the alerts/safeguards in place if there is a problem with the route/bus, etc. Who can we contact and who will contact us in the event of a future incident? I’m just a concerned Barmouth parent who wants the kids home safe each day.”
Mr Blakemore told the Cambrian News that a group of children were stranded once again last Friday, but not for as long as they were able to get on a different bus.
A spokesperson for Transport for Wales said: “We are currently running a rail replacement service between Machynlleth and Pwllheli while Network Rail completes the final phase of the £30 million Barmouth Viaduct restoration.
“Unfortunately due to a number of unforeseen operational issues we were unable to provide the required number of rail replacement buses from Tywyn on two occasions last week.
“We understand this is an important route for local school children and would like to apologise to the pupils, parents and teachers for the inconvenience this caused.
“We have now sourced additional vehicles, standby vehicles and have temporarily placed a member of staff at the school during peak times to help ensure the rail replacement service runs effectively.”