A £3million project described as "the biggest track upgrade in the county for over 60 years" is to begin on part of Cornwall's rail line in the new year.

Network Rail said it should bring a reliable railway to the west of Cornwall.

Work is beginning to renew the track on the St Ives bay line between Carbis Bay and St Ives from Sunday, January 3 until Monday, February 8, with the £3million cost representing the largest track investment in Cornwall since the 1950s.

Over the five-week period around 1.5 miles of new track, 3,600 new sleepers and more than 400 tonnes of new ballast – the stones that supports the track – will be installed.

GWR will operate a half-hourly replacement bus service between St Ives and St Erth during the day, but in order for passengers to socially distance with ease the operator is asking those planning to travel to plan ahead and check journey times beforehand.

Train services on the main line between Plymouth and Penzance will continue to operate whilst this improvement work takes place.

Lee Hildreth, Network Rail’s project manager, said: “This is a huge piece of work, but it will make a real difference as it will reduce delays and improve reliability for passengers in Cornwall.

“It is the biggest track upgrade for generations, and it has been planned so it can be done as safely and as quickly as possible.

“However, buses will replace trains while the work is ongoing, so we urge passengers to check before they travel and thank them in advance for their patience.”

Mark Chorley, GWR regional station manager, west, said: “We have been working hard to make sure that people can be confident to travel safely, and that includes running as many replacement buses as we can to make extra room, as well as enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures.

“This work is important to ensure we can continue to maintain and improve reliability on this very popular and scenic branch line and we thank customers for their patience in advance.”