Coombe Junction Halt railway station serves the villages of Coombe and Lamellion near Liskeard, Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is situated on the Looe Valley Line and operated by Great Western Railway. All trains on this line have to reverse at Coombe Junction, but only a very few continue the short distance into the platform to allow passengers to alight or join the train.

It is one of the only two stations in the current National Rail Timetable (December 2009, table 140) officially to have the suffix "halt" (the other being St Keyne Wishing Well Halt on the same line). The term "halt" was finally removed from British Rail timetables and station signs and other official documents by 1974: the return of the term came only for these two stations in 2008. Coombe Junction was not termed "halt" until 2008.

With 26 passenger entries and exits between April 2014 and March 2015, it was the second-least used station in Great Britain, behind Shippea Hill.[1]


A 1905 Railway Clearing House Junction Diagram showing (lower right) railways in the vicinity of Coombe Junction

The Liskeard and Looe Railway was opened on 27 December 1860 to carry goods traffic; passenger trains running from 11 September 1879. The railway in those days connected with the Liskeard and Caradon Railway at Moorswater and there was no station at Coombe but a platform was provided here from 1896 and trains would call to set down passengers going to Liskeard railway station if they notified the guard, as the steep road from Coombe to the station was considerably shorter than the route from Moorswater through Liskeard.

The extension line from Coombe Junction up to Liskeard railway station opened for goods traffic on 25 February 1901. Passenger trains started to use this line on 15 May 1901 when Moorswater was closed to passengers. All trains called at what is now Coombe Junction station while the locomotive ran around to the south end of the train to continue the journey. The original track layout included a loop south of the station to allow two trains to pass, but from 1928 this was combined with the platform road and after this trains could only pass after the first had run round and shunted onto the through line, when the second could be allowed into the platform.


A signal box was situated on the west side of the line near the junction, but since 1981 the points have been worked by the guard of the train using two ground frames on the east side of the line, No. 1 Ground Frame at the junction south of the station, and No. 2 Ground Frame just north of the platform.

The branch is divided into three distinct "token blocks".

  1. The section from Liskeard to Coombe is operated under the authority of a Tyers No. 9 Electric Token System. This consists of a pair of electrically interlocked machines, one at Liskeard signal box and the other located by the Coombe No. 1 Ground Frame. The pair of machines only allow one token to be removed from either machine at any one time. However, the system has been modified to allow the token to be removed from and returned to the machine at Liskeard, something that normally requires the breaking of a seal and explanatory entry in the train register.
  2. The section from Looe to Coombe is operated under the authority of a wooden staff which also has a key attached that unlocks the ground frame that changes the points by the No.1 Ground Frame that allows access to the Looe branch.
  3. The section from Moorswater to Coombe is operated under the authority of a different wooden staff which also has a key attached that unlocks the ground frame controlling the trap points by the No.2 Ground Frame.
Coombe Junction Ground Frame No. 2 with the station in the distance

The train driver is only permitted to enter a section when in possession of the correct staff or token. There is a gap between the three sections at Coombe, but as the two ground frames and the station are visible from each other, this section is regarded as being within the "station limits" of the ground frame. In other words, all movements around the No.1 Ground Frame through to Coombe station are made under the authority of the guard's hand signals (who is acting as a signalman as far as the line's operation is concerned).

The Moorswater section has a fixed 'stop board' protecting the station. Similarly, the Looe section has a 'stop board' before the points at Coombe Junction. There is no 'stop board' on the Liskeard section because the points must be locked in position to allow access to the ground frame's station limits otherwise the Looe branch staff cannot be removed from the ground frame. The stop boards are fixed signals and a train may not be driven past without authority from the guard operating the ground frame.

The Liskeard to Coombe Junction Token is rarely surrendered at Liskeard until the end of the day, unless a goods train is scheduled to run through while the train is there. At Coombe Junction it used to be surrendered to the train's guard who placed it in the token machine at the No. 1 Ground Frame and then used the Coombe to Looe Staff to unlock the points, allowing the train to proceed back through the junction onto this section. However, in practice, the guard usually retains the token for the journey to Looe (in his capacity as signalman) except on the rare occasion when another train needs to run to Moorswater while the passenger train travels to Looe and back. The points are then returned to normal, allowing a goods train to traverse the branch if required, and the Staff is given to the driver as authority to drive to Looe and return.

A goods train will similarly use a Liskeard to Coombe Token, surrendering it to the guard who, on this movement will insert it into the Coombe token machine. Then guard will then collect the Coombe to Moorswater Staff which is kept in the token machine hut, which gives authority to enter the section to Moorswater. The points at the Number 1 Ground Frame are not changed for this move, but a set of trap points, by the Coombe No. 2 Ground Frame, must be opened and then closed again once the train has passed over. Since the driver of a goods train has to pull a considerable distance beyond the No.2 ground frame he must physically touch the staff before proceeding out of Coombe station. However, the guard has to retain possession of it in order to operate the trap points allowing access to the branch. Thus the Moorswater branch is actually operated by a variation of the staff and ticket system, the guard's verbal instruction to proceed taking the place of the ticket, once the driver has touched the staff. Once the points have been reset, the guard can give the staff to the driver.


Coombe Junction
Liskeard and Caradon Railway
Cornish Main Line
Coombe Junction Halt
Coombe Junction
Looe Valley Line

There is just a single platform, on the right of arriving trains, which can be accessed from the road at Lamellion, at the north end, or from a footpath running alongside the track from the level crossing to Coombe House, to the south.

Passenger trains have to reverse at Coombe Junction, but most do so without entering the station. The line continuing beyond the platform is used only for infrequent freight trains to the cement terminal at Moorswater, which lies just beyond the Moorswater Viaduct, which can be seen carrying the Cornish Main Line across the valley.


Coombe is served by just two trains a day in each direction Monday-Saturday. There is no Sunday service.[2]

Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Liskeard   Great Western Railway
Looe Valley Line
  train reverses
St Keyne Wishing Well Halt    

Community rail

The railway between Liskeard and Looe is designated as a community rail line and is supported by marketing provided by the Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership. The line is promoted under the "Looe Valley Line" name.


  1. ^ "Revealed: Britain's busiest and quietest stations". BBC News. BBC. 15 December 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2015. 
  2. ^ Table 140 National Rail timetable, May 2016
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  • Bennett, Alan (1990). The Great Western Railway in East Cornwall. Cheltenham: Runpast Publishing. ISBN 1-870754-11-5. 
  • Clinker, CR (1963). The Railways of Cornwall 1809 - 1963. Dawlish: David and Charles. 
  • Cooke, RA (1977). Track Layout Diagrams of the GWR and BR WR, Section 11: East Cornwall. Harwell: RA Cooke. 
  • MacDermot, E T (1931). History of the Great Western Railway, volume II 1863-1921. London: Great Western Railway. 
  • Messenger, Michael (2001). Caradon & Looe : the canal, railways and mines. Truro: Twelveheads Press. ISBN 0-906294-46-0. 
  • Tolson, JM; Roose, G; Whetmath, CFD (1974). Railways of Looe and Caradon. Bracknell: Forge Books.