The existing local rail service runs coast-to-coast in 50 minutes, from the
English Channel to the Atlantic.
In his book The
Newquay Branch and its Branches, John Vaughan describes the
remarkable sights enjoyed by today's Atlantic Coast Line passengers:
"There can be few surviving branch lines in the
UK to rival the variety of scenery to be found along the
way between Par and Newquay. From the south Cornish coast of Par the
line runs beside the old Par Canal before climbing the lush Luxulyan
Valley at 1 in 37. This is followed by a few miles of china clay
country around Goonbarrow and Bugle before the wild expanses of Goss Moor
are encountered. There follows a run through rolling farmland to the
north Cornish coast at Newquay."
The branch line
is owned by Network Rail and the Department of Transport has franchised
only a very limited local service to First Great Western (FGW), so while
Coast Line continues to be well used by Cornwall's many thousands of
summer season visitors it is far less popular with residents for reasons
timetabling of services fails to meet the requirements of local
commuters and students. Greater numbers of tourists and shoppers could
also make better use of the line if a more
frequent service were provided.
There is no
rail service between the main centres of Newquay and St
Austell, while road links between the two towns become increasingly heavily
that terminates at Par holds little appeal other than for the town's residents and those passengers
wishing to connect to the mainline.
Stations on the line are in need of
refurbishment and improvements to access arrangements,
communications and support facilities.
to work with FGW and other stakeholders towards addressing these
shortcomings and, ultimately, towards the development of a rail loop
taking in Newquay, Par, St Austell and St Dennis.
loop would offer the prospect
of an enhanced local and Inter-City passenger service and freight
operation, with the potential for a future heritage service, and would
crossover points at Par on to the main line towards Penzance;
main line from Par to St Austell and Burngullow;
Burngullow to Parkandillick freight line;
rail corridor from Parkandillick to St Dennis Junction (abandoned
Such a route
would benefit both residents and business. With approximately
750,000 visitors annually, Newquay is one of the UK's leading seaside
resorts, and has long been its premier surfing destination.
The town aims to further develop its appeal and extend the tourist season
beyond high summer. Development of the Branch Line could support
this aim by, for example:
additional tourists to Newquay, or transporting them from there to local
attractions that exist close to Branch Line stations. The Eden
Project, for instance, operates
Eden bus service six or seven times a day from
St. Austell station.
residents and tourists beyond Newquay to the rail museum and shopping
centre of St Austell and promoting local businesses and attractions in
By retaining the
heritage element of the railway (including the St Blazey turntable, one
of only two remaining in the west country) and presenting local rail
memorabilia, the line could attract many specialist visitors as well as
Raising further unique opportunities
to provide, for instance, rail
accommodation in the form of converted rolling stock along the line for
rail enthusiasts and other visitors from the UK and beyond, thus
spreading the tourist offering across the 'shoulder' months.
for the development of the Branch Line describes in detail the various
considerations and opportunities involved in such a venture, and lists
short-, medium- and long-term objectives that could result in its