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A survey of railways in Wales and the tourist attractions they serve

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Valley Lines

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National Network

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Arriva Trains Wales services on the
Rhymney Branch

This  is an extract from the page on Valley Lines. To access the main site select either the Taff Valleys and Cardiff section, the Rhymney Valley, Ebbw Vale, Cardiff and coast section, or the full version which combines the two.
Select one of these links to return to the Gazetteer of Stations or Route Sections page.

Trevithick 1804-2004
February 21 2004 marked the 200th anniversary of the first steam train to run on rails. The historic journey began in Merthyr Tydfil, and throughout 2004, a series of commemorative events took place, which can be reviewed

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The line was built by the Bute estate and opened in 1858, but the original route to Cardiff ran via present-day Aber to join the Taff Vale Railway's branch at Taff's Well. Any involvement with the fractious TVR was fraught with potential acrimony, and the Rhymney Railway's agreement was no exception. Taff Vale accusations that Rhymney Railway traffic received preferential treatment at Bute Docks were countered by a Rhymney Railway challenge to the surcharge which the Taff Vale placed on trains using the shared track.
The Rhymney Railway sought to open its own direct route into Cardiff, but cash flow problems resulting from the slower-than-anticipated development of the Upper Rhymney Valley coalfield, and, subsequently, the hitting of a hidden spring while driving a tunnel through the Caerphilly mountain, meant that it was not until 1871 that the new route opened and dependency on the TVR ceased.

Train services

Please note. The period of validity of the National Network timetables has changed.
Any times and travel details given  apply only for the currency of the timetable valid from May 18 to September 7 2014.

From Rhymney, Monday to Saturday services to Cardiff operate at 6.08am, 6.32am, 7.00am, 7.24am, 7.42am and 8.30am, then hourly at 27 minutes past the hour between 09.27am and 5.29pm, and at 7.43pm, 8.46pm and 9.36pm.
On Sundays, there are two-hourly departures at 9.08am and 11.09pm, 1.09pm, 3.20pm, 5.20pm and 7.20pm.
From Cardiff Central, Monday to Saturday, there is a train to Caerphilly at 5.44am, then trains at 6.15am, 6.46am and 7.16am to Bargoed, then to Rhymney at 7.31am. Trains then run hourly at 16 minutes past the hour between 8.16am and 4.16pm, then at 5.01pm, 5.31pm, 5.46pm, 6.31pm, 7.31pm, 8.31pm, 9.31pm and 10.35pm. The last train to Ystrad Mynach is at 11.15pm.
On Sundays, there are two-hourly departures from Cardiff Central at  6 minutes past the hour between 10.06am and 8.06pm, and at 9.16pm.

Special fares and/or timetables will apply to all Valley Line services on event days at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Stations on the branch

Stations on the branch (with journey times from Rhymney) are :
Pontlottyn (2 mins); Tir Phil (7); Brithdir (9); Bargoed (13); Gilfach Fargoed (16); Pengam (18); Hengoed (22); Ystrad Mynach (24); Llanbradach (30); Energlyn and Churchill Park (35); Aber (37); Caerphilly (40); Lisvane and Thornhill (44); Llanishen (46); Heath High Level (49); and Cardiff Queen Street (54).

Places of interest

From Queen Street station the line heads north through the suburbs of Cathays and Roath. Shortly before
Heath High Level
is reached, trees at the northern edge of Roath Park can be seen on the right, while the suburb of Cyncoed rises from the shallow valley beyond.
From Heath High Level, the train travels high above the village over Three Arches viaduct beyond which there are extensive views of north-western Cardiff and, ahead, Caerphilly mountain through which the track will later tunnel.
Passing under a rusticated arched bridge, the train enters
Llanishen station, serving a mainly residential area
then on through a high cutting to
Lisvane and Thornhill
Close by is Cefn On park - famed for its in-season displays of rhododendron and azaleas - and Lisvane Tennis Club.
Soon, the train enters Caerphilly Tunnel, at just over a mile in length, the longest of the two tunnels on the Valley network (the other is at Cogan).
Emerging from the tunnel, the train track curves west to enter Caerphilly station.
Caerphilly Castle with its leaning towerCaerphilly...
...is famed throughout the world for its cheese and the imposing castle (pictured left) which dominates the northern part of the town. The castle is second only to Windsor as the largest in Europe. Started in the latter half of the 13th century, it is one of the best examples of the concentric castle style introduced to Britain by the returning Crusaders. Its inner and outer wards were further fortified by a moat and earthwork defences on an island in the lake which protects its western flank. Its most famous feature, the Leaning Tower - 80 ft high and 13 ft from the vertical - is believed to result from a gunpowder assault during the Civil War, though to which army the 'credit' should be given is uncertain.
Opposite the castle, is the new shopping precinct.
The station is part of the interchange which links the surrounding area to the railway from the bus station. Cheese-making has returned to the town after an absence of several decades.
From Caerphilly the track again heads northward first to
where a side valley leads to Senghenydd, the scene of the British coalfield's greatest disaster in 1913 when 439 men and boys were killed in an underground explosion at the Universal Colliery
and then to
Energlyn and Churchill Park This latest station on the route serves the Energlyn residential area; but Caerphilly Industrial Estate is about 500m north-east of the station.
Beyond here, the route is almost rural with the occasional conurbation superimposed on the route.
Ystrad Mynach
is the largest of these, the approach to the station heralded (on the left) by Ystrad Mynach signal box, unusual in the complex system of levers and pivots which transfers the signaller's actions down the embankment on which the box is perched, to the infrastructure at the bottom. A few miles to the west is Llancaiach Fawr, a reputedly-haunted manor house where visitors are greeted and entertained in the style of the English Civil War period.
station is overshadowed by Maesycymmer viaduct which spans the valley. The station is part of the Gren Trail, opened in October 2012, which celebrates the quirky 'take' on the Welsh valleys through the cartoons of local artist Gren Jones.
The ambiguous rural/urban character of the valley is exemplified at
which has a farm on one side of the station, and houses and factories on the other.
Gilfach Fargoed
is the Valley Lines equivalent of Budapest, and serves the communities of Gilfach (to the west) and Bargoed to the north.
was once an important junction for the long-closed branches from the surrounding valleys, but is now the end of the double-track line from Cardiff. Until a few years ago, only one platform was in use, but the former Up platform has been brought back on line. The station is somewhat inconveniently located for the main residential focus of the town, so there also are plans to build another station further south, in which case, Gilfach Fargoed would close. These plans have been under consideration for many years, but there is still little signed that they will be followed up.
From Bargoed the line passes over a high masonry viaduct before becoming single-track for the rest of the journey to Rhymney.
is the first stop on the single-line section near which is the George Inn, the name the station bore until 1892.
Tir Phil
also serves New Tredegar - and the Elliott Colliery Engine House tourist attraction - on the opposite side of the valley.
In 1995 a Class 150 Sprinter crosses the viaduct, with the since-demolished Railway Inn nestling in the arches belowPontlottyn
With its colliery long-closed (though its site is commemorated by two of the sheaves (winding wheels) embedded in a concrete plinth), until a few years ago, Pontlottyn's claim to fame was the Railway Inn.
This curiosity resulted from the strict temperance of the former landowner, who refused any drinking establishment on his property. The directors of the Rhymney Railway, however, had no such qualms, and allowed the inn to be built in its relatively restricted position, nestling between the arches of the railway viaduct (pictured left). Closed for many years, the pub consisted of three bars linked by a long corridor, but has been demolished despite a vigorous local campaign to retain it.
is the terminus of the line, and consists of a station and sidings where trains are stabled overnight. About a mile to the north, Butetown, a former iron-workers' village consisting basically of parallel terraced cottages, has been restored. A conservation area, it incorporates a church, post office and public house, but the cottages themselves are privately owned and have no public access.

This page is an extract from the Valley Lines pages. To access the main site select either the Taff Valleys and Cardiff section, the  Ebbw Vale (Western Valleys), Rhymney Valley, Cardiff and coast section, or the full version which combines the two.
Select this link to return to the Gazetteer of Stations or Route Sections page.

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Copyright 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created July 14 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated May 18 2014
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