Penzance railway station

Cornish Main Line Great Western Railway National Rail

Penzance National Rail
Penzance - GWR 802003+802013 London service.JPG
Local authorityCornwall
Coordinates50°07′19″N 5°31′59″W / 50.122°N 5.533°W / 50.122; -5.533Coordinates: 50°07′19″N 5°31′59″W / 50.122°N 5.533°W / 50.122; -5.533
Grid referenceSW475306
Station codePNZ
Managed byGreat Western Railway
Number of platforms4
DfT categoryC1
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2014/15Increase 0.550 million
2015/16Decrease 0.543 million
2016/17Increase 0.560 million
2017/18Increase 0.569 million
2018/19Increase 0.570 million
Original companyWest Cornwall Railway
Pre-groupingGreat Western Railway
Post-groupingGreat Western Railway
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Penzance from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.

Penzance railway station serves the town of Penzance in west Cornwall, England. It is the terminus of the Cornish Main Line from Plymouth, 327 miles (526 km) from London Paddington via Bristol Temple Meads.

The station is owned by Network Rail and managed by Great Western Railway who also operate the train services, together with CrossCountry.

It is the southernmost railway station in the United Kingdom.


Inside the second station c. 1915, a Steam Rail Motor waits to depart

The station was opened by the West Cornwall Railway on 11 March 1852[1] as the terminus of its line from Redruth. A fire in 1876 destroyed the goods shed[2] and the wooden passenger buildings were replaced by the current station in 1879 built in rock-faced granite[3] to a design by William Lancaster Owen. The total cost was around £15,000 (equivalent to £1,540,000 in 2019)[4] which included the roof which cost £5,000, for the iron and 50 tons of glass.[5] The new platforms were used for the first time on 18 November 1879.[6] However, the new station suffered from teething problems, as by 1880 it was reported that some settlement in the masonry and shrinkage of the iron in the roof had caused several sheets of the glazing to break.[7]

Further alterations were made in 1937 and again in 1983 when a new ticket office and buffet were opened.[8]

The blocked-up archway in the wall that retains the hillside behind the platforms was used by the railway as a coal store. Freight traffic, especially the busy fish trade, was handled in the former goods yard, where cars are now parked, adjacent to the bus station. An engine shed was also here before being moved to the opposite side of the line near the end of the retaining wall. It has since been replaced by the new Penzance TMD outside the station at Long Rock. In November 1882 there were complaints about the paving, rail tracks and the difficulty for traffic to pass on the Albert Pier. The Borough Council requested the Railway Company to replace the paving with granite setts before relaying the rails.[9]

From 1996, South West Trains operated a weekly weekend service from London Waterloo as an extension of its service to Exeter St Davids. This ceased in December 2009.

In 2012–13 the station's roof was refurbished.[10]

Preceding station Historical railways Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Cornish Main Line

Station Masters

  • James D. Christian ???? - 1865
  • J.G. Bone 1865 - 1882[11]
  • G. Bain 1882 - 1886 (formerly station master at Gobowen)
  • William Blair 1887 - 1911
  • H. Morris 1912 - 1916[12] (formerly station master at Paignton)
  • James Tierney 1916 - 1920
  • H.C. Foster 1921[13] - 1924 (formerly station master at Paignton, afterwards station master at Oxford)
  • Harry T. Giles 1924 - 1931 (formerly station master at Acton)
  • Herbert Edgar Tucker 1931 - 1940[14] (formerly station master at Kingsbridge)
  • Henry Gordon Lyon 1940 - 1949[15] (afterwards station master at Leamington Spa)


The station layout

Platforms 1, 2 and 3 are within the main train shed; Platform 4 on the south side is in the open air. A large stone at the end of this platform welcomes people to Penzance in both English and Cornish. This side of the station is built on the sea wall near the harbour; the other side is cut into the hillside. There is only one bi-directional line into/out of the station as far as the (now defunct) station at Marazion, as the former northbound line has been used to access Penzance TMD at Long Rock since 1977.


Left to right: GWR intercity, CrossCountry and GWR regional services

Penzance is the terminus of the Cornish Main Line. The current journey time to or from Paddington is between five and six hours.

Two operators serve Penzance. Great Western Railway operate a mixture of local trains to Plymouth and longer distance services to London Paddington. These include the Night Riviera overnight sleeping car service and the Golden Hind which offers an early morning service to London Paddington and an evening return. Other fast trains are the mid-morning Cornish Riviera and the afternoon Royal Duchy.[16] Services to London Paddington during the day use IET bi-mode multiple units (since 2018), but local services use GWR Class 43 ‘Castle’ sets or Class 150 and Class 158 DMUs. The Night Riviera uses a Class 57 locomotive hauling Mark 3 carriages.

There are a limited number of CrossCountry trains providing a service to destinations in the West Midlands and north such as Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, Edinburgh, Dundee and Glasgow Central.[16] Penzance is the terminus of the longest train service in the United Kingdom, which runs from Aberdeen takes about 13 and a half hours.[17]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   Great Western Railway
Cornish Main Line
  St Erth
Cornish Main Line
"boat icon" Ferry services
St Mary's   Isles of Scilly Steamship Company

Passenger volume

Penzance is the second busiest station in Cornwall, Truro being the busiest with more than twice the number of passengers compared with Penzance. Comparing the year from April 2011 to that which started in April 2002, passenger numbers increased by 48%.[18]

  2002–03 2004–05 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
Entries 199,282 205,025 210,998 235,377 253,881 323,269 260,491 278,273 289,824 281,496 266,629 274,865 271,518 280,169 284,418 285,049
Exits 192,726 197,974 202,907 226,387 244,409 323,269 260,491 278,273 289,824 281,496 266,629 274,865 271,518 280,169 284,418 285,049
Interchanges unknown 2,132 748 699 354 49 200 22 118 - 31 172 174 17 1,384 1,598
Total 392,008 405,132 414,653 462,463 498,644 646,538 521,182 556,568 579,648 562,992 533,258 549,730 543,036 560,338 568,836 570,098

The statistics cover twelve month periods that start in April.

Bus station

Penzance bus station is situated immediately outside the station entrance; this example of transport integration arose from the Great Western Railway's operation of most of the early bus services in the area. It is served by First Kernow and National Express services.

The Tourism Information Centre is located between the bus station and the railway station entrance.


  1. ^ "West Cornwall Railway. Opening of the Line from Redruth to Penzance". Royal Cornwall Gazette. Falmouth. 12 March 1852. Retrieved 5 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  2. ^ "Fire at the Penzance Railway Station". Royal Cornwall Gazette. Falmouth. 22 January 1876. Retrieved 5 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ Beacham, Peter; Pevsner, Nikolaus (2014). The Buildings of England. Cornwall. Yale University Press. p. 430. ISBN 9780300126686.
  4. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Penzance". The Cornishman (74). 11 December 1879. p. 4.
  6. ^ "Fire at the Penzance New Railway Station". West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser. Falmouth. 20 November 1879. Retrieved 5 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Penzance". Cornishman. Falmouth. 3 June 1880. Retrieved 5 October 2015 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ Bennett, Alan (1988). The Great Western Railway in West Cornwall. Cheltenham: Runpast Publishing. ISBN 1-870754-12-3.
  9. ^ "The Abert Pier Obstruction". The Cornishman (226). 9 November 1882. p. 8.
  10. ^ "Penzance train station: Giving travellers a good welcome". The Cornishman. 8 November 2012. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Local and District Intelligence". The Cornish Telegraph. England. 30 March 1882. Retrieved 17 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  12. ^ "Penzance". West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser. England. 8 June 1916. Retrieved 17 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  13. ^ "Mr. H.C. Foster". Gloucestershire Echo. England. 12 March 1921. Retrieved 17 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "Penzance Stationmaster to Retire". Cornishman. England. 21 November 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  15. ^ "From Penzance to Leamington". Cornishman. England. 7 April 1949. Retrieved 17 September 2017 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  16. ^ a b Table 51 & 135 National Rail timetable, May 2019
  17. ^ Barrow, Andrew (6 February 2015). "Britain in a day: the longest train route in the country". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  18. ^ "Station Usage". Rail Statistics. Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 25 March 2010.