Barry Island railway station
|Welsh: Ynys y Barri|
Barry Island station platform with an Arriva Trains Wales Pacer set awaiting departure.
|Local authority||Vale of Glamorgan|
|Managed by||Arriva Trains Wales|
|Number of platforms||1|
|Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
|Annual rail passenger usage*|
|Key dates||Opened 3 August 1896|
|National Rail – UK railway stations|
|* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Barry Island from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.|
Barry Island railway station is a railway station, 9¼ miles (15 km) south-west of Cardiff Central, serving Barry Island (Welsh: Ynys y Barri) in South Wales. The station has been the terminus – and only remaining active station at the end of the Barry branch of the Cardiff Central to Barry Island line since the closure of Barry Pier station in 1976.
In 1896 the railway line was extended along the newly built raised road causeway from Barry Station onto the Island to provide a service to the newly opened and developing Barry Island Pleasure Park day tripper leisure facilities. The Barry Island station opened in time for the August Bank holiday 1896. The new rail line also crossed to the island at road level and consequently a level crossing was needed where the line crossed Plymouth Road. When a premises on Station Approach was being renovated in the late 1990s traces of the original track were discovered in the basement.
To give improved passenger access to the Yellow Funnel steamers that plied the Bristol Channel in 1899 the line was continued past Barry Island station to the new Barry Pier railway station through an enclosed box tunnel.
The peak years for passenger numbers at Barry Island were in the 1920s and 1930s. From 1924 on most peak-time August Bank Holiday Mondays between 80,000 to 100,000 visitors arrived at the Island and mostly by train.
After the 1926 General Strike, reports in the local and national press described the scenes over the 1927 August Bank Holiday weekend at Barry Island as 'organised chaos' . It was estimated that in excess of 120,000 arrived at the island with packed trains arriving and leaving Barry Island Station at five-minute intervals. In excess of 75 special excursion trains, each carrying an estimated 500-600 passengers arrived from Cardiff's Riverside Station during that morning and early afternoon.
A report in the local press on one Bank Holiday Monday, when an estimated crowd of over 150,000 arrived at the Island, described the scene as follows - "When it was time for visitors to leave the Island a queue started to form just before 6 pm and by 9.30 pm was still over a quarter of a mile long, it snaked around the fairground with people waiting to board their trains. Excursionists from the Midlands and places other than Cardiff and the Valleys using one entrance and boarding their non-stop return trains and "Locals" having to wait for a space to return to Cardiff."
In 1927 the GWR decided to issue special day return tickets from Cardiff General (Riverside) at one shilling each (5pence) and sold over 82,000 tickets. Demand during the morning was so great that temporary ticket booths had to be set up at the Riverside concourse to cope with the high level of sales. Additional trains and rolling stock were quickly laid on, over and above the planned timetable to transport the additional visitors to Barry Island. By 12 noon the station ticket office totally ran out of tickets and were forced to use hand amended tickets that had been dated for the following day.
Traffic levels started to fall in the 1950s and 1960s with the spread of greater car ownership in the UK, especially after the Severn Bridge opened in 1966. A further sudden drop occurred between 1968 and 1970 with the removal of the Taff Vale railway branch line from Cardiff via Penarth as a result of the Beeching Axe. The wholesale closure of rural rail links all over the country accelerated the switch to private car use by holidaymakers.
In its heyday (prior to the early 1960s), the station had four operational platforms - one long main platform on the 'up' side divided into 2 sections (numbered 1 & 2, with 2 served by a dead end spur off the through line to Barry Pier) and an island platform on the 'down' side (numbered 3 & 4). There were also several carriage sidings at the 'country' end of the station opposite platform 2 (as can be seen in the photo above), with a signal box at each end to control the layout. The 'East' ’box was closed in 1964, with the former 'West' ’box taking over responsibility for the entire station. The branch from Barry was built as double track, but was singled in 1969.
The remaining signal box at the station was damaged by fire in 1976 and was out of service for repairs for more than a year - this coincided with the final closure of the Pier branch and the abolition of platform 2, leaving only 3 platforms in use. The two faces of the island platform were thereafter (especially from 1982 onward - when the carriage sidings and Pier branch were finally lifted) only used during the summer for excursion traffic, with the ’box normally "switched out" and all trains using platform 1. This method of operation continued right up until the ’box was permanently abolished in March 1998, though main line connections to the tracks serving platforms 3 & 4 had been disconnected for some years by this time. Following the closure of the box, the redundant tracks through platform 3 & 4 were lifted and the platform 1 line was curtailed at a buffer stop halfway along the platform. The remaining bi-directional single line was henceforth operated using ‘One Train Working’ regulations from Barry Station signal box (since abolished - the branch is now controlled from Cardiff ROC), whilst the defunct island platform had its footbridge steps to platforms 3 & 4 removed. Platform 4 was subsequently handed over to the Vale of Glamorgan heritage project (see below). In 2012, the station footbridge giving right of way to the public was replaced by a state-of-the-art structure with disabled access facilities but which offers no access to any of the platforms.
Vale of Glamorgan Railway
The Heritage Vale of Glamorgan Railway moved their operations to Barry Island station in 1997 from Cardiff Butetown railway station when the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation indicated that they had no use for a heritage steam railway in their plans. The heritage railway started operating heritage trains from Barry Island's platform 4, running across the causeway alongside the Network Rail line, before continuing on to one of their existing branches.
Following financial cutbacks brought about by the global credit crunch, the Vale of Glamorgan Council withdrew annual grant support for the heritage railway and placed the facilities up for tender. The heritage railway subsequently failed to secure the new lease and were forced to withdraw from Barry Island station in December 2008.
Private transport operator Cambrian Transport subsequently took over the lease in December 2009 and they now run the heritage line as the Barry Tourist Railway.
From Monday to Saturday during daytime hours, three trains per hour leave for Cardiff Central; their final destinations being Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil via Pontypridd. The frequency drops to half-hourly in the evening and some late night trains terminate at Cardiff Central.
On Sundays, the service to Cardiff runs half-hourly all day and serves Rhymney in addition to Merthyr & Aberdare. The train journey from Cardiff Queen St to Barry Island Station typically takes 36 minutes.
- Signalling Diagram - Barry Island West Signal BoxSignalling Record Society; Retrieved 2013-09-19
- Signal Box Diagrams - Barry Island 1964 www.signalbox.org; Retrieved 2013-09-19
- Adrian The Rock - Signalling at Barry www.roscalen.com; Retrieved 2013-09-19
- The Vale of Glamorgan Railway
- Walesrail - Vale of Glamorgan Railway Walesrail; Retrieved 2014-04-10
- GB National Rail Timetable 2015-16 Edition, Table 130
- Barry Island, Dai Davis, BarryIsland.org, Accesssed on 5 August 2012.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|Barry||Arriva Trains Wales
|Woodham Halt||Vale of Glamorgan Railway
|Waterfront||Vale of Glamorgan Railway
Line and station open
Line and station closed