Passengers are set to benefit from an additional 2,000 seats per day on the St Ives branch line, NetworkRail has announced.

St Ives Railway station

It also says there is a more reliable mainline in Cornwall following the completion of a number of recent improvements to the railway.

Over the past nine days, Network Rail, and its contractor BAM Nuttall, have extended the station platforms at Lelant and St Erth as part of a £1.14m investment into the branch line. These upgrades will enable GWR to run longer five-carriage trains, which will then be able to stop at all stations along the St Ives branch line.

The ability to operate trains with an additional carriage means a 25% increase in capacity, providing an additional 2,000 seats and a total of 10,000 seats to and from St Ives during peak summer days.

At Lelant, the existing platform has been extended by 13 metres, while at St Erth the platform has been extended by six metres. The platforms are expected to be commissioned and approved to welcome the first five-carriage trains later this year, with GWR planning on operating these longer trains following the May 2022 timetable change, during the peak summer months.

These upgrades follow a £3m track upgrade in February 2021 which saw Network Rail complete the biggest track investment on the St Ives branch line in 60 years.

Much-needed extra capacity

On the mainline between Truro and Penzance, Network Rail’s team of engineers also renewed 1.8km of track, sleepers, and ballast, helping support the reliability and lifespan of this important mainline railway into Cornwall. They also replacing the life expired Bodriggy bridge in Hayle.

Mark Chorley, GWR regional station manager, West, said: “We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many trains and carriages as we can to make extra room.

“Last year, the St Ives branch line saw its busiest ever period, and this work will enable us to provide additional summer services, providing much needed extra capacity.”

MP Derek Thomas added: “Improving capacity on the branch line to St Ives is a core part of our work to reduce the pressure on traffic in the town centre, so this is a great step in the right direction.

“In St Ives, we are ambitious to achieve a low-carbon transport network and have appreciated the way that Network Rail and GWR have engaged with us as we work towards this shared goal.”