South Wales Railway
The South Wales Railway was a 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge railway that linked the Gloucester and Dean Forest Railway with Neyland in Wales. The line now forms part of the South Wales Main Line and Gloucester to Newport Line.
The need for the railway was created by the need to ship coal from the South Wales Valleys to London, and secondly to complete Brunel's vision of linking London with New York, and more financially rewarding immediately to the South Wales coal and ferries to Ireland.
A prospectus was issued in 1844 to build a railway through South Wales from a junction with the Great Western Railway at Standish in Gloucestershire. The proposed route would cross the River Severn west of Gloucester, and run through South Wales to Abermawr, near Fishguard, thereby connecting to both southern Ireland and New York. The Great Western Railway agreed to subscribe £600,000 of the £2,400,000 required to build the railway.
However, local objections were raised over the proposed long bridge over the River Severn. The objections were overcome by linking with the Gloucester and Dean Forest Railway at Grange Court, and linking with the rest of the existing 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge system at Gloucester. This diversion added an extra 18 miles (29 km) to the journey between South Wales and London.
The initial part of the line between Chepstow and Swansea was opened on 18 June 1850, with trains operated by the Great Western Railway under a lease agreement. At the eastern end of the line the connection to Gloucester and London Paddington was completed in July 1852 when the bridge at Chepstow was finished. Construction of the line west of Swansea was delayed, due to the financial problems of the late 1840s, and the abandoning of construction of the Irish railways that would connect with the Fishguard ferries at Waterford. The western terminus of the line was changed from Fishguard to New Milford (Neyland) and the line west of Swansea was built in stages, reaching New Milford in April 1856.
As coal traffic from the South Wales Valleys increased, the tensions between the South Wales Railway and the Great Western increased due a lack of wagons. These were eventually resolved when in January 1862, when the two companies merged.
- 1845 South Wales Railway authorised by Act of Parliament from Chepstow to Fishguard
- 1846 Gloucester and Dean Forest Railway authorised by Act of Parliament
- 1850 Opened Chepstow to Swansea
- 1851 Opened Grange Court to Chepstow East
- 1852 Chepstow Bridge opened, linking the two sections of railway
- Railway opened from Landore to Carmarthen
- Branch to Swansea Docks opened for goods traffic only
- New Act of Parliament authorises the western terminus to be changed from Fishguard to Neyland
- 1854 Railway extended to Haverfordwest
- 1856 Railway completed to Neyland
- 1862 South Wales Railway amalgamated with the Great Western Railway
- 1872 Re-gauged from broad to standard gauge.
Includes stations opened by the Great Western Railway and subsequent operators
- Gloucester and Dean Forest Railway
- South Wales Railway
- Awre for Blakeney
- Lydney Junction
- Chepstow East (1851 – 1852 temporary station)
- Chepstow (1850)
- Severn Tunnel Junction (1886, after the opening of the Severn Tunnel)
- Undy Halt
- Newport High Street (now Newport)
- Cardiff (later Cardiff General, now Cardiff Central)
- Ely Main Line
- Port Talbot (now Port Talbot Parkway)
- Briton Ferry
- Swansea High Street (now Swansea)
- Pembrey and Burry Port
- Carmarthen Junction
- St Clears
- Clarbeston Road
- Milford Haven
- La Luciole – Britain's 7 ft 1⁄4 in (2,140 mm) gauge railways
- Grange Court
- MacDermot, E T (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, volume I 1833–1863. London: Great Western Railway.
- Jones, Stephen K. (2006). Brunel in South Wales. II: Communications and Coal. Stroud: The History Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780752439181.
- Hodge, John (2002). The South Wales Main Line. Part Two: Severn Tunnel to Newport. Wild Swan Publications. p. 1. ISBN 1-874103-76-3.