Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Western - Falmouth review 1

Falmouth Docks station

8/8/07 - Truro to Falmouth Docks

Name of Line: The Maritime Line

Cost of ticket £3.00  - Cheap Day return

Dept: Truro 16.27  Arrive: Falmouth Docks: 16.50 

Journey time 23 mins

Distance: 12 ¼  miles  Weather: Hot and sunny

Train type: 2 car  Class 150/2  Sprinter DMU  (single track all the way)

Railway company: First Great Western

Frequency of trains - one every 2 hours


The first thing about being in Cornwall, far away from the South East and London is that everything is much cheaper. For a start the train fare is a minute £3 for a cheap day return. Then when we get to Falmouth we buy some of the local delicacy, "Cheesy chips" for les than a pound! Truro station still maintains much of its Great Western character with semaphore signals at both ends of its three platforms.  We move off from platform 1 in a westerly direction and go straight into a cutting, lush with greenery. We see parts of Truro on the left before we leave the Cornish mainline at Penwithers Junction and turn south westwards onto a single track, moving downhill at a constant 50 mph. We are mainly in cuttings before we enter our first tunnel - Sparnock Tunnel. It's quite muggy on this hot August day, even with the windows open. The clickety clack of the track is replaced by a smoother welded rail, as we pass cornfields on the left and open countryside on the right. We start to slow down as we go over Bissoe Viaduct, crossing an almost dried up river below us. We make the first stop of the journey at Perranwell station. There is no station building to be seen and on the other side of the platform is a pile of old rusting track. There is evidence that there was once double track here as we move off into an open valley. Again there are more cornfields on the left, which have been recently harvested and bales lie flat in threes and fours. We enter our second tunnel of the journey, the Perran Tunnel, which isn't quite as long as the previous one. We emerge into another deep cutting, still descending and speeding up to about 60 mph. We see a quick glimpse of the sea before we come into Penryn station, which has a basic bus stop type shelter and a few flowers in bloom on the platform. There's a large car park next to the platform, but there are only 3 or 4 cars in it today. Bushes growing out of control on the other side almost touch the train's windows, whilst four people get off. We go over another viaduct giving us views of many white painted houses on the opposite hillside as far as the eye can see. We speed up to about 50 mph again, still descending on welded rails once again. We stop at Penmere station looking very Cornish with its palm trees and plants. It still has its old green Penmere Platform sign. This is in contrast to the more modern bus stop shelter. The station looks down on the village on Penmere far below to the right. We speed up again to about 60 mph, but this is short lived as we slow and then stop as we come into Falmouth Town, which looks like it has been completely rebuilt in recent years. It is high up looking down onto a car park and the town on the left. Most people get off here, no doubt encouraged by the station sign, which says, "Alight here for the National Maritime Museum". We then enter another cutting, then over some points at a walking pace as we see the docks of Falmouth on the left ahead of us, with a warship in the harbour. The track is now double again, though the track on the left is rusty and hasn't been used for a long time. There's also a branch that leads off into the docks area, but it's not clear if it is still used. The station of Falmouth Docks is just a one-platform terminus with a large car park next to it. There is lots of building work going on here, showing that the whole area is being redeveloped. There's a nice mosaic next to the platform showing scenes from Falmouth, but this is sharp contrast to the large amount of litter lying about on the train itself.

Summary: a very pretty line with much character. It should continue to run as it is very popular with tourists as well as being an important route to and from the port of Falmouth. MC