The Anonymous Widower

The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro

In the January 2022 Edition of Modern Railways, there is this description of the Mid-Cornwall Metro.

This would see an hourly service shuttling between the north and south coasts of the county and linking the main population centres at Newquay, St Austell, Truro and Falmouth. This would become the main service on the Newquay branch, and it would take over one of the twice-hourly services on the Falmouth branch, with the other service being a Truro to Falmouth shuttle as now.

Facilitating the Metro idea will be the latest phase of the modernisation of signalling in Cornwall, which will see the upgrade of a level crossing near Truro. Other infrastructure work required is a new passing loop on the Newquay branch at Tregoss Moor and restoration of a second platform face at the terminus at Newquay.

A business case was due to be submitted to the Department for Transport before Christmas 2021.

These are a few thoughts.

The Current Timings

If you look at the distances and timings of the various sections they are as follows.

  • Newquay and Par – Five stops – 20.8 miles – 49-52 minutes
  • Par and Truro – One stop – 19 miles – 22 minutes
  • Truro and Falmouth Docks – Four stops – 11.8 miles – 24 minutes


  1. It appears that the Newquay to Par service is three minutes quicker than the other way.
  2. There will be a reverse at Par, which could take three minutes.
  3. The Par and Truro times were either GWR Castles or Class 802 trains.

The total time is 98-101 minutes and the total distance is 51.6 miles

Possible Timing


  • For the ease of timetabling and operation, it is probably best that a round trip between the two Newquay and Falmouth Docks takes an exact number of hours.
  • The operating speed between Par and Truro is 75 mph and it is only 50 mph elsewhere.
  • Turnround time at Newquay is five minutes.
  • Turnround time at Falmouth Docks is 4-6 minutes

For these reasons, I doubt that much improvement could be made on the fastest time of 98 minutes. Certainly, a round trip of three hours would appear impossible.

But a round trip time of four hours would be very sensible.

However, there would be a turnround time of between 19-22 minutes at each end of the route.

This time might seem overly long, but it would be ideal for charging a battery-electric train.

How Many Trains Would Be Needed?

As the round trip will be four hours and an hourly service is needed, there will be a need for four trains to run the service, with the addition of probably two extra trains to allow for one in maintenance and one covering for any breakdowns.

Could The Mid-Cornwall Metro Use Battery-Electric Trains?

This Hitachi infographic shows the specification of the Hitachi Regional Battery Train.


  1. The range of ninety kilometres is fifty-six miles and a longer distance than Newquay and Falmouth Docks.
  2. The operating speed of 90-100 mph is ideal.
  3. The time needed for a full charge at either end is within the timetable, I calculated earlier.

Hitachi Regional Battery Trains would be ideal for working the Mid-Cornwall Metro with a full charge at both ends of the route.

I have used my virtual helicopter to explore the Cornish Main Line between Par and Truro.

If it was decided to electrify the Cornish Main Line between Truro and Par, this could be an alternative way to charge the trains.

  • The Mid-Cornish Metro trains should be able to do a return trip to Newquay and Falmouth Docks from the main line without charging at the two terminal stations.
  • The electrification would be able to charge battery-electric Class 802 trains between Plymouth and Penzance.

But the extra infrastructure works to raise nine road bridges and several footbridges might blow the budget.

Where Would The Trains Be Serviced?

Great Western Railway has depots at both Penzance and Plymouth and with perhaps a charger at Truro and/or Par stations, the trains should be able to get to either depot at the end of the day.

Trains To Newquay

Wikipedia says this about the services to Newquay station.

The service is irregular with typically one train around every two hours.

As well as the local service, the station handles a number of long-distance trains in the summer. These services include Great Western Railway trains from London Paddington and CrossCountry trains from the North of England and the Scottish Lowlands, which do not stop at intermediate stations between Par and Newquay. On Sundays, there are some local trains and a small number of intercity services. As well as the weekend through trains, in peak summer months there is also a Monday-Friday through Great Western Railway intercity service to and from London, but local trains continue on these days too. Traditionally, there was no Sunday service in the winter, even in the ‘golden age’ between both of the 20th century’s world wars, but the line has a service of three trains each way on Sundays from 11 December 2011.

The Mid-Cornwall Metro will at least come with an hourly service.

But this will mean, that to run other services to the station with the hourly Metro will mean that a second platform will be needed.

I discuss the improvements needed in Beeching Reversal – Transforming The Newquay Line.

This is a quirky video, which describes an architect’s plans for the station.

It is the sort of simple solution, that I like.


I believe that a small fleet of Hitachi Regional Battery Trains could create an iconic Metro for Cornwall, that would appeal to both visitors and tourists alike.


January 3, 2022 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. This is one of those ideas that at first glance doesn’t seem to make much sense as direct trains from Newquay to Truro and on to Falmouth are never going to be able to compete with journey times by road. However, direct trains from St Austell to Newquay and Falmouth do make a bit more sense and once you’ve done that you might as well connect the services together.

    Comment by cjw714 | January 4, 2022 | Reply

    • The thing I like about it, is that it would be ideal for quiet battery-electric trains. These encourage people to use them.

      Comment by AnonW | January 4, 2022 | Reply

  2. Another problem is that the fastest UK Metro is Metrolink at 50mph, unless you count the Underground (62mph), others, like Edinburgh (42mph) are slower, Quite how this translates into acceptable journey times compared to heavy rail is hard to see.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | January 4, 2022 | Reply

    • I think if the Metrolink hadn’t been built and you started to build it now, it would have been built as a tram-train using Class 399 tram-trains or similar. These are 60 mph vehicles and according to a driver I talked too, they are much more powerful than the Supertrams, which are only capable of 50 mph. Whereas the Supertrams struggle on some of Sheffield’s hills with a full load, the 399s go straight up.

      I wouldn’t be surprised that when Sheffield gets new vehicles for the Supertram, they’ll get 399s.

      Comment by AnonW | January 4, 2022 | Reply

  3. Why not speed things up by making use of a Newquay to St Austell curve (which may need reinstating)? Be about 10 minutes quicker. Yes people in Par would lose out a bit – and would have to be served by mainline trains – but worth it. Perhaps the long distance to Newquay trains could call there.

    Comment by Benedict leVay | June 25, 2022 | Reply

    • The curve doesn’t appear to be there. I don’t know how difficult it would be to add, but if it saved ten minutes it might be worthwhile.

      Comment by AnonW | June 25, 2022 | Reply

  4. Suggestion to re-lay track St.Austell-Carthew-Bugle, now a footpath.
    Another suggestion: Park & Ride at St.Columb Road for Newquay – use adjoining field for car parking.

    Comment by Chris Clarke | July 20, 2022 | Reply

  5. […] wrote about this scheme in The Proposed Mid-Cornwall Metro, where I came to this […]

    Pingback by Landmark Levelling Up Fund To Spark Transformational Change Across The UK « The Anonymous Widower | January 19, 2023 | Reply

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