Train services between Plymouth and Penzance doubled today as part of Great Western Railway’s new May timetable.
To be operated by new Intercity Express Trains and refurbished Castle Class trains, the new timetable will see regular half-hourly local stopping services between Plymouth and Penzance, doubling the frequency of off peak services. The additional trains will provide over 4,000 extra seats every weekday.
Announcing the timetable change, GWR MD Mark Hopwood said: “I am delighted that we have been able to deliver these improvements today, and another significant step to provide more modern trains, and more frequent services on almost every part of our network.
“These new, routine half-hourly services will have a significant impact for those who travel in Devon and Cornwall and the communities we serve; and paving the way for mainline improvements between London and Devon and Cornwall to come later in the year.”
At present GWR services on the line are for the most part every hour, with some extra services during peak times. The new services will plug the gaps, providing a full half-hourly service for the majority of the day.
The increase in services follows a £30 million signalling upgrade delivered by Network Rail between Plymouth and Penzance. The modernisation has seen 21 additional signals added along the Cornish mainline as well as upgrades to seven level crossings to improve safety. This work enables more services to run and has improved the reliability of the railway in Cornwall.
The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has invested £3.2 million in the signalling project from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
LEP chief executive Glenn Caplin said: “These new services give better connectivity to Cornish businesses and improved access to employment and education for people across Cornwall. With more capacity in the public transport system we can boost productivity and grow the economy.”
With the delivery of the new Intercity Express Train fleet complete, and a further timetable change in December, GWR also plans to improve the number of direct trains from London to Devon and Cornwall and reduce journey times between Paddington and Penzance by up to 14 minutes.