The Branch Line Society

Guest



Cornwall STP Tracker, Day 2
Thursday 12th July 2018

Report by Neil Greenwood


Further to the Day 1 report, on Tue 10 Jul some scuba divers found a 1,000 pound unexploded WWII bomb on the beach at Teignmouth and, despite it being there for around 75 years or so, the main line was closed for a while until it was deemed safe to run trains. The bomb was blown up that night which fortunately didn't blow participants' plans out of the water. Also on Day 1, participants travelling to Cornwall on the Night Riviera from Paddington found themselves (or at least those who were awake did) crossing to the Up Main line south of Exeter St Davids Jn as far as Teignmouth where the Down main was regained.

The seated coaches are actually usually at the Penzance end in both directions with the sleeping cars behind the loco in the Up direction. (One member has always wanted coach 'G', berth 23/25 but the system never offers it!) The three non-sleeping Mk3 coaches are 'A' a brake declassified 1st (Standard Class after refurbishment, hence the 2+1 seating*), 'B' a declassified 1st (Standard after refurbishment), and 'C' a buffet/Sleeper lounge car. There are four sleeping cars with, ThFSuO, usually a fifth 'H' added.

*Soon to be changed to 2+2 to increase capacity for local travellers - Aug 'Modern Railways'.)


A bright sunny morning at Bodmin Parkway, (formerly Bodmin Road station) the group's train leaves for Penzance after its special stop here. The Bodmin & Wenford Railway, with its convenient cross platform interchange, curves away right to Bodmin Town. Buses also run hourly (six on SuO) from the station to Bodmin, Wadebridge and Padstow.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




In the other direction looking towards Plymouth the buffer stops (centre of picture and to the left of the platforms) are on the headshunt for the Bodmin and Wenford Railway run-round line which in BR days continued to form the main line connection. Far left is a new 'OFF' indicator. They would never allow a new station with such curved platforms now!
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




Newquay now has a single track and platform.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]


Day 2, a gloriously sunny one in Devon and Cornwall, saw the party meet up at Plymouth station to catch the 08.20 full length HST to Bodmin Parkway. An easement means that the Ride Cornwall Day Ranger is valid and interestingly the HST calls include Devonport, Saltash and St Germans. This was a change to the booked plan because of losing the Newquay branch the day before. Bodmin Parkway was by special stop order (for 'normal' passengers) as the scheduled connection in to the group's Penzance train at Par was running late, so behind it rather than in front. At Bodmin Parkway there was then a 20 min wait for the 34 min late 05.24 Bristol TM to Newquay 2-car Class 150 DMU. This gave time to sample the excellent café in the former Bodmin Road Signal Box, (Totnes has a nice café in its former box too).The DMU did the facing connection from the main line to Par P3 for the branch.


Newquay now has a single track and platform.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




Looking back towards Par.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




Some of the party at Luxulyan
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




The 12.41 SSuX (2 Jul until 3 Aug 2018) Newquay to Penzance train reverses in Par P3.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]


Various china clay freight workings made up of covered CDA wagons now showing their age (will they be replaced?), were seen from Goonbarrow Jn (and, less commonly now, even Parkandillack) to/from Carne Point. The scenes on the branch were more Mediterranean than Atlantic coast. The DMU made a rapid turnaround at Newquay to help make up time but still managed to call at most of the request stops either outwards, on return, or both. The first railway at Newquay had been a horse worked line from the harbour to Hendra Crazey (near St Dennis) built between 1846 and 1849.

The return working, the 12.41 ex-Newquay is through to Penzance and allowed coverage of the very rare Par P3 connection to the Down Main. This is because SSuX from 2 July until 30 August (only) a HST from Paddington runs to Newquay and return while the branch train provides a connection on to Penzance. The group took it to Truro, a fine station and signal box. The next planned rare connection was off the Falmouth branch to Truro P3. The only train to do this is the 19.02 (SuX) Falmouth Docks to Truro which then runs ECS to Plymouth. With a few hours to wait, a move to Plymouth seemed like a good idea to try and cover as many platforms there as possible over the two days. Due to a couple of late trains forcing changes of plan the group covered all of Plymouth west end except P6, the two crossovers west of the station and missed a few station stops between Plymouth and Liskeard. Most also missed a journey on the 4-coach Class 255 (Castle) Mini-HST too. However, track was the priority.

On the run back to Truro, saying hello to a member from Bolton who just happened to be on board doing his own thing, the HST lost time at every station stop. Therefore there was a nail biting connection to catch the 2-car Class 150 from bay P1 to Falmouth Docks. The branch is thriving these days, many of the passengers are local students; for first timers on the line the similar names of Perranwell, Penryn and Penmere must be a little confusing, then there are two stations at Falmouth!


Penryn, a Truro to Falmouth leaves the loop to call at the south end of the platform; on the right is a Falmouth to Truro at the north end of this platform.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]


Returning to Penryn the relatively unusual passing loop that allows trains to cross and then both be either end of the same long (261yd) platform at the same time was observed in action. There are similar examples on the Aberystwyth line at Dovey Junction and at Abergynolwyn on the Talyllyn Railway. Dropping back to the other branch unit gave another run to Falmouth Docks. The driver, whom we had met several times on different trains over the two days, greeted us like old friends and kindly went as near to the buffer stops as safely possible. It became the sought after 19.02 from Falmouth Docks to Truro P3 as booked - for one member the only required track in the two days.

Some made for Plymouth and it was left to four hard liners to complete the tour, arriving at Penzance P2 (the only one not covered the day before) on the 20.00 HST from Truro. After a break of an hour for 'refuelling', the last leg saw them on the Up Night Riviera from Penzance P1 and homeward bound.

While this trip may have been considered by some to not have the 'pulling power' of our other tours, and indeed every move was made on a regular service train, that overlooks the camaraderie and friendships that develop over a few days when a group of like minded people get together for a bit of a track bash. I think it safe to say everyone had a great time. Mark's very thorough planning, even specially visiting the area the previous week to test the robustness of the planned moves (in particular at Penzance - BLN 1309.1560) resulted in a stress free, highly enjoyable couple of days for all the participants. The great majority of this ambitious two day event was completed with all the passenger track in Cornwall covered. The weather was great too which always helps. There are a few people who 'made' this event and they deserve to be applauded. We had such a supportive response to our endeavours from Heather and Mark, two Par based GWR guards on the Looe services, and Nina, the Par based driver who drove us down the Looe and Falmouth Docks branches. Finally, none of this would have been possible without the superb planning and people skills of our very distinctive member Mark Haggas - a big thanks from all 10 of us to them (singular*).

[*Mark identifies as non-binary transgender and prefers they/them pronouns instead of he/she.]


Falmouth Docks, the branch terminus looking towards the buffer stops.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




…and looking back towards Truro from the end of line.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




The Night Rivera Sleeping Car train awaits departure for London Paddington at Penzance.
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]




The End!
[© Neil Greenwood 2018]


Back to Top