Rail improvements to impact journeys on Looe and Gunnislake branch lines

Monday 02nd November 2020

Plans to carry out improvement and maintenance work to two bridges on the Looe and Tamar Valley branch lines mean the railway between Liskeard and Looe, and between Plymouth and Gunnislake, will be closed during separate periods this November.  

The work taking place is essential to ensure the continued use of both branch lines for years to come. 

A train sat at a station on a branch line.

Work on the Looe Valley line will take place between Saturday 7 and Tuesday 10 November. Buses will replace trains between Liskeard and Looe (no service on Sunday 8 November) and leave at different times to the normal train times. 

From Monday 16 to Thursday 19 November, buses will replace trains from Gunnislake, Calstock, Bere Alston and Bere Ferrers stations to allow Network Rail to refurbish the River Tavy bridge and associated track renewal over River Tamerton bridge between Warleigh Point Nature Reserve and the Kawasaki plant. 

Buses will run on two separate routes to link stations on the branch with Plymouth: 

Cornwall bus – Plymouth – Gunnislake – Calstock
Devon bus – Plymouth – Bere Alston – Bere Ferrers 

Some train times between Plymouth and Penzance will also change to allow for extra stops at Devonport, Dockyard, Keyham and St Budeaux Ferry Road, which are normally served by Gunnislake trains. 

GWR Station Manager for Plymouth and East Cornwall, Sara Rogers, thanked passengers in advance for their patience and reminded them of the changes ahead which these improvement works are helping to bring. 

Sara said
"This essential work will see critical bridges on both branch lines renewed, allowing customers to continue to use our services which are vital to the region. 

“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, and replacement buses where trains cannot operate, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.  

“Please do however, check before you travel and be considerate of others." 
Network Rail Scheme Project Manager, Jack Cleeves, said

"We’re really pleased to be able to finish the bridge deck replacement work on the Looe Valley line over the next few days. We’ve been working with train operator GWR to carry out this work when fewer passengers are travelling. The Looe line is very popular with passengers travelling between Looe and Liskeard and further afield on the mainline.  

"This essential work will ensure this line remains open for years to come." 

Network Rail Project Manager for Gunnislake, Jason Pankhurst, said

"This type of project is interesting at the best of times, in this instance we’re working around 20 metres above the Tavy River and so is even more challenging. 

"Due to the weather conditions last year we were unable to finish the replacement of the bridge deck timbers. We hope to be able to complete our work in November."  

For further travel advice and information on the work please visit GWR.com/Looe or GWR.com/Gunnislake.  

With England set to enter a second lockdown from Thursday 5 November, those who need to travel are being reminded to:

  • plan ahead – travel at quieter times where they can, buy a ticket online and in advance, and book ahead if you need travel assistance
  • consider others – wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, not travelling if you have Covid symptoms and consider others, not all disabilities can be seen
  • stay safe – maintaining your distance wherever possible; wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser, paying contactless where you can
GWR has been providing rail services throughout the pandemic and has worked to ensure that these are as safe as possible. This includes increased cleaning regimes and the use of a virucidal spray; extra staff at key stations to offer help and guidance; and processes in place to help customers maintain a safe distance where possible such as restricting the number of reservations available.   

Notes to editors 

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England. 

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.