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Author Topic: Local journeys in Plymouth and Cornwall - General Information  (Read 11794 times)
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« on: February 14, 2008, 09:13:56 pm »

Plymouth to Bere Alston, Calstock and Gunnislake - the Tamar Valley Line

Description of line

The Tamar Valley Line runs from Devonport in Devon to Gunnislake in Cornwall. The line follows the River Tamar for much of its route, hence its name.

Stations served:

St Budeaux Victoria Road
Bere Ferrers
Bere Alston

The section between Calstock and Bere Ferrers is on the Bere peninsula, between the river Tamar, and the river Tavy. The most southerly road bridge (the A390) on the peninsula is at Gunnislake, crossing the river Tamar. This means the railway is the quickest way of getting into the city of Plymouth to the south.

Services Offered
Services are operated by First Great Western using Class 150 or Class 153 diesel multiple units.

Known issues

The Tamar Valley Line is one of the lines supported by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, an organisation formed in 1991 to promote railway services in the area. The line was designated as a community rail line in September 2005, being one of seven pilots for the Department for Transport's Community Rail Development Strategy. This aims to establish the true costs and revenues for the line with an aim of improving them. It is also looking at simplifiying the reversal of trains, considering the costs and benefits should the line be "microfranchised" separately from the Great Western Franchise, and the potential for extending the line from Bere Alston to Tavistock.

First Bere Alston to Gunnislake is (to the best off my knowledge) the only section in Britain On the National (NR» (Network Rail - home page)) Network that WAS built as a Light Railway and which is still open.

Other lines have since been down-graded to Light Railway status.

Second the Viaduct at Calstock, construction was delayed as one of the two columns that stand in the river has foundations deeper than the Height above river of said viaduct. It's over 100foot high above the River Tamar, the boundary Between Cornwall and England.

(thanks to Smokey for the above information)

Plymouth to Penzance

Description of line

Stations served:

St Budeaux Ferry Road
St Germans
Bodmin Parkway
St Austell
St Erth

Mainly double track between Plymouth and Penzance but with short single line sections. These cause little problems.

Service offered
Basically hourly throughout the day, seven days a week. HST (High Speed Train)'s to London in Morning and Afternoon returns arriving in afternoon and evening. Local services between Plymouth and Penzance with some extensions to Exeter, two services from Bristol a day but none returning.

Peak flows
Morning, arriving in Plymouth and Truro before 09:00.
Evening, departing from Truro and Plymouth from 17:00

Known issues
Overcrowding on peak services. Punctuality of HST services. Cancellation of trains due to staff shortages. Short formed services cause overcrowding at all times.

Liskeard to Looe

Description of line

The "Looe Valley Line" is an eight and a half mile long community railway from Liskeard to Looe. It follows the valley of the East Looe River for much of its course, hence the name.

Stations Served:

St Keyne

Service offered

The service operated by First Great Western since 10 December 2006 consists of nine trains each way daily. During the peak summer period from 20 May to 9 September 2007 three additional services were operated, including a late evening train. Sunday services only operate during this peak period, eight trains running on these days during 2007.

Coombe railway station is only served by two or three trains each way, the remaining intermediate stations are request stops.

Known issues

Since 1992 the Looe Valley Line has been one of the railway lines promoted by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. The Looe Valley Railway Company Limited, a non-profit trading arm of the Partnership, has operated a summer ticket and information office at Looe since 2004, and the Friends of the Looe Valley Line group undertake voluntary activities. Passenger numbers have risen from around 58,000 in 2001 to 75,000.

The line was designated as a community rail line in September 2005, being one of seven pilots for the Department for Transport's Community Rail Development Strategy. This aims to establish the true costs and revenues for the line with an aim of improving them. It is also looking at simplifiying the reversal of trains, considering the costs and benefits should the line be "microfranchised" separately from the Great Western Franchise, and the potential for opening a Park and Ride station at Moorswater where the goods sidings are close to the A38 Liskeard Bypass.

The Looe line was originally a canal, with rail to boat transfer at Coombe Platform. T he railway ran north from Coombe up onto the Moors and was of course a freight line.

The railway was built on top of the canal but signs of old locks can be seen. When the train reverses at Coombe Junc, on the right-hand (from Liskeard/Looe) side of train, next to the road can be seen an inset in the wall where the old lock gate used to swing into.

Also where the train heads to Looe and stops (shorthly before Looe) to sound the Horn at the road crossing, on the left (in direction of travel) can be seen another old lock. Other old locks can be seen.

At Looe station mile post Zero Over One can be seen, this is 1/4 mile from the end of the line which used to run (start) on the key side.

with thanks to Smokey for the excellent local information here!

Par to Newquay

Description of line

The "Atlantic Coast Line" starts from Par station, in the village and port of Par. The station is located on the Cornish Main Line, and trains to Newquay must first traverse a near 180 degree curved chord line before joining the route of the former Cornwall Minerals Railway (CMR) near the former St Blazey station.

The local campaign group is 'Focal (Friends of the Atlantic Coast Line [Newquay])', whose website is at

Stations served:

St Columb Road
Quintrell Downs

Service offered

Local passenger services are operated by First Great Western, who also operate a limited number of through trains from London Paddington that run non-stop from Par to Newquay. Summer weekends also see holiday trains operated by Cross Country from the North to Newquay, which also do not stop at Par or intermediate stations on the branch.

Known issues

The line is single from St Blazey to Newquay. A passing loop is situated just south of Bugle, originally built for the china clay freight trains going to Goonbarrow freight yard. it is also used for the summer trains to pass each other, so one train can enter the line before the other is out.

The Atlantic Coast Line is one of the railway lines supported by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, an organisation formed in 1991 to promote railway services in the area. The local passenger service over the line was designated by the Department for Transport as a community rail service in September 2006. This aims to increase the number of passengers and reduce costs and includes the investigation of how to get a better spread of train times during the day, and how to increase train services in the peak summer season.

Truro to Falmouth

Description of line

Also known as "The Maritime Line", this is a well used local branch with main flows into Truro in the morning and out in the evening. Penmere is a busy branch station as it serves a built up area of Falmouth.

Stations served:

Falmouth Town
Falmouth Docks

The new University of Cornwall [CUC] at Penryn has increased traffic especially at weekend with students going to and from home.

A new block of flats mainly for students is currently being built by Falmouth Docks station.

Service is basically hourly seven days a week apart from annoying two hour gaps. A 150 unit usually provides the service but occasionally a 153 deputises and is the very overcrowded. Peak trains very often have two staff checking tickets as there is no chance of one person getting around the peak train in time if undertaking door duties. There are no facilities or ticket machines on the branch but most stations are acceptable and modest.  Penmere has a Friends organisation and has won previous station awards.

Penmere and Perranwell have had the original old GWR (Great Western Railway) name plates re erected. See Perranwell on web.
Much work has been undertaken recently by Network Rail with nearly the whole branch being cleared of vegetation and tree roots poisoned. Penweathers junction with the main down line west of Truro station has recently been re-laid. A large proportion of the line has also been re-laid in the last few years with welded rail on steel sleepers.

There has been much discussion of a Park and Ride for both Falmouth and Truro at the intersection with the A39 at Treluswell. The A39 road is extremely busy and even with the money spent on road works still clogs up Truro. Treluswell is just south of the rapidly expanding village of Ponsanooth between Penryn and Perranwell.

A point of interest is that this branch is the only one in the UK (United Kingdom) with the station names in alphabetic order from South to North!!!! Sad or what?

(thanks to Farwest for this)

Vacman adds:

All the right paperwork has now been signed for the [Falmouth] loop etc and the Half hourly service will start on that branch in May 2009, albeit with only 2 single 153's but that shouldn't be a problem with nearly 4 times more trains running.

St Erth to St Ives

Description of line

The "St Ives Bay Line"  runs from St Erth to St Ives. The branch line is single track for its whole length with no passing places. It runs alongside the Hayle estuary and then the sea coast and is promoted as a good place to see birds from the train.

Stations served:

St Erth
Lelant Saltings (opened in 1979)
Carbis Bay
St Ives

Service offered

Passenger services are operated by First Great Western. Previously, Wessex Trains held the franchise on this route.

End of October Half Term-Start of Easter: 153
Easter-Start of Summer Holidays: Single 150
Summer Holidays: Two 150 units. This year it should also be strengthed with a 153 unit.
End of Summer holidays- October half term 150.

When First Great Western took over the operation of this line from Wessex Trains there were initially cuts in the level of traffic. The service was reduced from 26 trains per day to 16 trains, but this was the winter timetable and the summer of 2007 saw a return to the previous service level.

Two or three trains from St Ives continue to Penzance and vice versa each day to facilitate crew changes.

Vacman adds [April 2008]:

The proposed reduction to 16 trains per day for winter '06 never actually happened, common sense eventually prevailed and the half hourly "clock face" timetable was retained.

There is to be a major improvement to this branch this year with the half hourly daytime service running 7 days per week (it's currently hourly on Sundays, even in summer!!)

Known issues

In recent years, due to heavy traffic congestion in St Ives, the railway has been promoted as a Park and Ride for visitors to the town, with the construction of new facilities at Lelant Saltings, close to the A30 road. This has lead to overcrowding on services during periods of good weather.

The branch was designated as a community railway line in July 2005, being one of seven pilots for the Department for Transport's Community Rail Development Strategy. This aims to increase the number of passengers and reduce costs to make lightly used railways more economically sustainable. Among its aims are a higher-frequency of service, to introduce local tickets and ticket vending machines, and public art on the stations promoting the line as the artistic gateway to St Ives.

Note: this section would really benefit from some additional information from people who regularly use the services or who have some background or local knowledge that we could use. If you feel you have something to offer, please don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'll gladly post credits for anything used. Thanks ever so much! ~Phil
« Last Edit: August 19, 2010, 12:24:36 pm by Phil » Logged
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