Council welcomes latest milestone in partnership to bring twice hourly rail service to Cornish mainline

Plans for a twice hourly rail service on the Cornish mainline are firmly on track with testing now underway of the new fleet of High Speed Trains which will help double the number of services currently available.

Cornwall Council has welcomed the fleet’s arrival as a major milestone in the transformation of rail services in Cornwall. GWR announced this week that the High Speed Trains (HSTs) – four carriage Class 43 Castle trains which have been converted from eight carriage vehicles - will come into service from next month.

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The announcement comes as Network Rail continues its extensive upgrade to signalling on the mainline railway – improvements to infrastructure which will enable the new HST fleet to run the half hourly service later this year, explained Councillor Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet member for Transport.

“This project is an important part of our investment in Cornwall and will benefit our economy by bringing more people into the county” he said. “This is a very exciting time for rail in Cornwall. We have the signalling work on our mainline, which will create the capacity for the new fleet of HSTs and Intercity Express Trains to enter service later this year which will seetrains leaving Penzance for Plymouth twice an hour and stopping at stations along the way.

“As a Council we are committed to working with partners to improve Cornwall’s public transport network and provide regular, reliable services for residents and visitors and this is a key elements of our One Public Transport System for Cornwall project, providing a fully integrated and sustainable public transport network and delivering an integrated SMART ticketing system for bus, rail and ferry.”

GWR Commercial Development Director Matthew Golton said: “These trains will replace smaller, less powerful trains on this part of the network; doubling the number of seats – as part of our commitment to improving rolling stock across every part of our network. They will work alongside new Intercity Express Trains; helping us to double the frequency of services into and out of Cornwall and improve capacity on suburban commuter services.”

Mike Gallop, Director of Route Safety and Asset Management, for Network Rail, said:  “Passengers and communities in the South West will see rail travel transformed from next year as huge investment into both railway infrastructure and the new Intercity Express Trains transforms the railway.

“As part of our Railway Upgrade Plan, Network Rail is undertaking track renewals and signalling upgrades in Devon and Cornwall to improve the reliability and resilience of the railway. This work will enable GWR to run two services per hour between Plymouth and Penzance from 2019, which will not only transform journeys for passengers but will also support economic growth in the area.”

Mark Duddridge, Chairman the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The LEP is investing more than £20 million of Local Growth funding to upgrade our rail network, including new signalling, enhanced sleeper service, new train care centre at Penzance and Wifi in Cornish stations. Good connectivity is vital to growing our economy and we look forward to the new half hourly service on the mainline later this year.”

The £400m programme of improvements for rail services in Cornwall is the result of a partnership between Cornwall Council, the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership, the Department for Transport, GWR and Network Rail.

Story posted: 28 March 2018