Atlantic Coast Line, Cornwall

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This article is about the Atlantic Coast Line in Cornwall, UK. For the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in the United States, see Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
Atlantic Coast Line
St Blazey Bridge 150219.jpg
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) Great Western Railway
CrossCountry (seasonal)
DB Schenker (freight)
Depot(s) St Blazey
Rolling stock Class 43 "HST"
Class 150 "Sprinter"
Class 153 "Super Sprinter"
Class 220 "Voyager"
Class 221 "Super Voyager"
Line length 20 34 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 34 miles (33 km) community railway line in Cornwall, England. 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[edit]

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 statistics cover twelve month periods that start in April.

Community rail[edit]

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 Great Western Railway.[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[edit]

Atlantic Coast Line
Newquay Harbour
20¾ Newquay
Trenance Viaduct
Tolcarn Junction
branch to Perranporth
Trencreek Crossing
18¼ Quintrell Downs
Coswarth Tunnel
14¼ St Columb Road
Toldish Tunnel
branch to Burngullow
12½ St Dennis Junction
Carbis Wharf branch
Wheal Rose branch
Molinnis Crossing
Carbean branch
Goonbarrow Junction
Rocks Siding
(private siding)
Treffry Viaduct
Rockmill Viaduct
Carmears Incline
Pontsmill Viaduct
Rockmill branch
Pontsmill Siding
St Blazey Bridge Crossing
Middleway Bridge Crossing
½ St Blazey
St Blazey engine shed
0 Par
Cornish Main Line
A through service from London Paddington stands at Newquay

Local passenger services are operated by Great Western Railway.[11] On summer weekends all the local services are withdrawn and replaced by a mixture of Great Western Railway trains from London Paddington and CrossCountry trains from the North of England. Most CrossCountry trains do not call at Par. Great Western Railway 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 (now known as Great Western Railway) 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[edit]

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 train consisted of a High Speed Train unit. The passengers were transferred to the rear power car which was then uncoupled and run slowly back to Luxulyan railway station where the passengers were transferred to road vehicles to continue their journey.[14][15]

On 30 December 2006 heavy rainfall caused a landslide on an embankment near St Blazey, blocking the line. A replacement bus service was run to cover for the passenger service, until the line reopened on 8 January 2007.[16]

On 12 June 2007 a train collided with a car crossing a level crossing at Chapel near Newquay. The crossing was of the type known as Automatic Open Level Crossing, where warning lights and a hooter give warning of the approach of trains, but no barrier is provided. The siren and warning lights were found to be working. The car driver was injured, but no-one on the train was hurt.[17]


  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 - St Austell & Liskeard: Fowey, Looe & Lostwithiel. ISBN 978-0-319-23708-3.
  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. Archived from the original on 25 May 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  5. ^ "Moor dualling plans get go-ahead". BBC. 29 November 2004. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. 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. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. 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 (PDF) 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. p. 20. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  14. ^ Surl, Malcolm (2007). "Solo HST power car". Modern Railways (Ian Allan Ltd) 64 (705): 32. 
  15. ^ "Derailment of a High Speed Train in the Valley". LoxSoft. 2007-04-26. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  16. ^ "Landslide closes rail branchline". BBC. 3 January 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007. 
  17. ^ "Driver injured in train collision". BBC. 12 June 2007. Archived from the original on 16 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 

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