Atlantic Coast Line, Cornwall

Atlantic Coast Line, Cornwall
Atlantic Coast Line

The line at St Blazey Bridge
alongside the remains of the Par Canal
Type Community rail
System National Rail
Status Open
Locale Cornwall
Termini Par
Stations 7
Opened 1874
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) First Great Western
CrossCountry (seasonal)
DB Schenker (freight)
Depot(s) St Blazey
Rolling stock Classes 43, 150, 153, 221
Line length 20.75 miles (33 km)
No. of tracks 1
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) Standard gauge
Loading gauge RA6 / W6A
Operating speed 50 mph (80 km/h)

The Atlantic Coast Line is a 20.75 miles (33 km) community railway line in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The line runs from the English Channel at Par, to the Atlantic Ocean at Newquay.[1]



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 route of the CMR is followed for the rest of the journey.[2]

From St Blazey, the CMR route utilised the route of the even earlier Par Canal, originally built to serve the nearby Fowey Consols mine, as far as its terminus at Pontsmill, where the Luxulyan Valley is entered. The thickly wooded terrain and steep granite slopes of this valley surround the fast-flowing River Par, contain a large concentration of early 19th century industrial remains, and have been designated a World Heritage Site.[3]

Shortly before reaching Luxulyan station, the line passes under the Treffry Viaduct, a historic dual-purpose railway viaduct and aqueduct that was built in 1844. This both supplied water to the Fowey Consoles mine, and also carried the main line of the Treffry Tramways, a precursor to the CMR.[3]

After Luxulyan, the line passes close to several former and current china clay works, before passing through Bugle and Roche stations.[2]

Between Roche and St Columb Road stations, the line passes through Goss Moor nature reserve. The bridge over the A30 road has been the site of many road accidents. In the past it has been proposed to divert the line, so that it starts from St Austell railway station and continues via the old Newquay and Cornwall Junction Railway freight-only line, joining the current route at St Dennis. This proposal has now been dropped as a suitable new route for the road has been found that will avoid the bridge and nature reserve.[4][5]

Once past Roche, the line passes through Quintrell Downs station before eventually reaching Newquay station, serving the Atlantic coast resort of Newquay.[6]

Passenger volume

The busiest station on the line is Newquay, where more than 10 times the number of passengers arrive and depart each year than the other stations added together.[7] The annual passenger usage is based on sales of tickets in stated financial years from Office of Rail Regulation statistics. The statistics are for passengers arriving and departing from each station and cover twelve month periods that start in April. Please note that methodology may vary year on year.

Station Name 2002-2003 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010
Luxulyan 1,005 791 1,160 1,252 922 1,214 1,372
Bugle 836 1,362 1,661 1,691 1,557 2,606 3,694
Roche 574 1,137 1,222 1,041 1,123 1,242 1,570
St Columb Road 813 733 1,031 1,390 783 1,222 1,590
Quintrel Downs 879 918 928 794 334 578 974
Newquay 76,103 83,712 71,301 77,188 87,550 126,244 102,232

The statistics cover twelve month periods that start in April.

Community rail

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 line is promoted by many means such as regular timetable and scenic line guides, as well as leaflets highlighting leisure opportunities.

The Atlantic Coast Line rail ale trail was launched in 2005 to encourage rail travellers to visit pubs near the line. There were originally 16 pubs but one has since closed. There are three in Newquay, two at St Columb Road, six in and around Par, and one each at Quintrell Downs, Roche, Bugle and Luxulyan. 5, 10 or 15 stamps collected in the Rail Ale Trail leaflet entitle the participant to claim special Atlantic Coast Line Rail Trail souvenir merchandise.

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. The designation allows for improvements to the long-distance summer trains and the freight traffic.[8]

Focal, a local "friends of the line" group helped to achieve a 75% increase in Par to Newquay passenger services through negotiation and cooperation with the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership and First Great Western.[9]


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. These days 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 loop uses semaphore signals.[10]

Passenger services

Atlantic Coast Line
Continuation backward
Cornish Main Line to Penzance
Junction from left Track turning from right
Station on track Straight track
0.00 Par
Continuation forward Straight track
Cornish Main Line to London
Junction from left Continuation to right
St Blazey engine shed
Unknown BSicon "eHST"
0.50 St Blazey
Level crossing
Middleway Bridge Crossing
Level crossing
St Blazey Bridge Crossing
Unknown BSicon "exSTRrg" Unknown BSicon "eABZrf"
Pontsmill Siding
Unknown BSicon "exABZlf" Unknown BSicon "eKRZo" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
Pontsmill Viaduct (Rockmill branch)
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Large bridge
(Carmears Incline) Rockmill Viaduct
Unknown BSicon "exSTRlf" Unknown BSicon "eKRZu" Unknown BSicon "exSTRlg"
3.75 Treffry Viaduct
Unknown BSicon "eABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exSTRrf"
Stop on track
4.25 Luxulyan
Straight track Non-passenger head station
Rocks Siding (private siding)
Junction to left Junction from right
5.75 Goonbarrow Junction
Straight track Unknown BSicon "xENDEe"
Straight track Unknown BSicon "exCONTf"
(Carbean branch)
Level crossing
Molinnis Crossing
Stop on track
6.25 Bugle
Unknown BSicon "eABZlf" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
(Wheal Rose branch)
Unknown BSicon "eABZlf" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
(Carbis Wharf branch)
Stop on track
8.75 Roche
Unknown BSicon "eABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
12.50 St Dennis Junction (branch to Burngullow)
Track turning from left Unknown BSicon "xABZrf"
Straight track Unknown BSicon "exTUNNEL1"
Toldish Tunnel
Track turning left Unknown BSicon "xABZlg"
Stop on track
14.25 St Columb Road
Enter and exit short tunnel
Coswarth Tunnel
Level crossing
Stop on track
18.25 Quintrell Downs
Level crossing
Level crossing
Trencreek Crossing
Unknown BSicon "eABZld" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
19.75 Tolcarn Junction (branch to Perranporth)
Large bridge
Trenance Viaduct
Unknown BSicon "eABZlf" Unknown BSicon "exSTRlg"
End station Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
20.75 Newquay
Unknown BSicon "exKDSTe"
(Newquay Harbour)
A through service from London stands at Newquay

Local passenger services are operated by First Great Western.[11] On summer weekends all the local services are withdrawn and replaced by a mixture of First Great Western trains from London Paddington and CrossCountry trains from the North of England. Most CrossCountry trains do not call at Par. First Great Western generally add an additional (ninth) coach to their HST sets which was used exclusively for luggage. Crowd-control measures, comprising additional barriers, staff and ticket checks, are often in effect on summer Saturdays.

In 2007 First Great Western began running a through service from London Paddington on Mondays to Fridays in July and August in addition to the two or three running on summer Saturdays and one return working on Sundays. Many of these workings are named The Atlantic Coast Express. Some of the Saturday direct services are true express services calling only at Par, Plymouth (set down only), Exeter St David's (set down only) and London Paddington.

Freight services

The eastern section of the line - as far as Goonbarrow Junction - sees a large amount of china clay freight traffic operated by DB Schenker. This company operates a depot to service locomotives, which is situated at St Blazey, north of Par.[12]

A freight spur connects the line at St Blazey with Par Harbour, passing under the main line from Par to St Austell on route. Although originally built as part of the Cornwall Minerals Railway to convey mineral traffic into the harbour, today it is principally used to convey dried china clay from the clay dries at the harbour.[2][13]


On 25 May 1991 the first train of the day from Newquay to London Paddington derailed in the Luxulyan Valley. The passengers were moved into the HST's rear power car which, unusually, was then uncoupled and ran slowly back to Luxulyan railway station where the passengers were transferred to road vehicles to continue their journey.[14]

On 30 December 2006, heavy rainfall caused a landslide on an embankment near St Blazey, blocking the line to both passenger and freight trains. A replacement bus service was run to cover for the passenger service, until the line reopened on 8 January 2007.[15]

On 12 June 2007 a train collided with a car crossing a level crossing at Chapel near Newquay, there were however no barriers on the crossing, but early indications were that the siren and warning lights were working. No passengers on the train were injured, however the car driver was. Previous accidents had happened at the same level crossing. As a result temporary bus transport was organised.[16]


  1. ^ "Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall - Newquay". Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Ordnance Survey (2005). OS Explorer Map 107 - Fowey, Looe & Lostwithiel. ISBN 0-319-23708-3.
  3. ^ a b "Luxulyan Valley". Cornwall & Scilly Historic Environment Service. 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2007. 
  4. ^ "A30 Goss Moor Briefing". Cornwall Friends of the Earth. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  5. ^ "Moor dualling plans get go-ahead". BBC. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  6. ^ Ordnance Survey (2005). OS Explorer Map 106 - Newquay & Padstow. . ISBN 0-319-23707-9.
  7. ^ "Station Usage". Rail Statistics. Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  8. ^ Department for Transport, Rail Group (2006), Route prospectus for the … The Atlantic Coast Line
  9. ^ "Local". Celebrating Success. Local. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. 
  10. ^ Vaughan, John (1991). The Newquay Branch and its Branches. Sparkford: Haynes/Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN 0-86093-470-5. 
  11. ^ "The Atlantic Coast Line - Par - Newquay - Timetable" (PDF). Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership. Archived from the original on 26 January 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  12. ^ "Depot Information - Wales and Western". Retrieved 24 May 2007. 
  13. ^ "Transport Background Technical Report - South West Regional Spatial Strategy" (PDF). South West Regional Assembly. September 2006. pp. page 20. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  14. ^ Surl, Malcolm (2007). "Solo HST power car". Modern Railways (Ian Allan Ltd) 64 (705): 32. 
  15. ^ "Landslide closes rail branchline". BBC. 3 January 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  16. ^ "Driver injured in train collision". BBC. 12 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 

External links

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