Brecon Mountain Railway

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Brecon Mountain Railway
Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog
Brecon Mountain Railway train.jpg
1908-built German 0-6-2WTT Graf Schwerin-Löwitz and American-style carriages.
Locale Merthyr Tydfil, Wales
Terminus Pant
Commercial operations
Name Brecon Mountain Railway
Built by Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Preserved operations
Owned by Brecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Operated by Brecon Mountain Railway Ltd
Stations 4
Length 5 miles (8.0 km) [1]
Preserved gauge 1 ft 11 34 in (603 mm)
Commercial history
Opened 1980
The American feel of the line is apparent from this photo of 1930 US-built Baldwin pacific No. 2 on 11 April 2004.
Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Brecon (Watton)
Brecon Free Street
Groesffordd Halt
Talyllyn Tunnel
674 yd
616 m
Merthyr High Street
Talyllyn Junction
Maerdy Junction
Brandy Junction
Ynysfach Junction
Ynysfach Ironworks
Rhydycar Junction
Pentir Rhiw
Cyfarthfa Junction
Cwm Colliery
Llwyngelyn Junction
Heolgerrig Halt
Cyfarthfa Steelworks
Cefn Viaduct
Cefn Coed
667 yd
610 m
Pontsarn Halt
Pontsarn Viaduct
Morlais Junction
Dowlais Central
Morlais Tunnel
1040 yd
951 m
Pontsticill Junction
Pantysgallog Halt
(High Level)
Pant Junction
Brecon & Merthyr Rly
Brecon Mountain Rly
Dowlais Top
Dowlais Top Junction
Pantywaun Halt
Fochriw Junction
Fochriw Colliery
Ogilvie Village Halt
Ogilvie Colliery
Darran and Deri
Rhymney & Pontlottyn
Groes-Faen Colliery
New Tredegar & Tirphil
Cwmtysswg Colliery
Bargoed North Junction
Cwmsyfiog & Brithdir
Bargoed South Junction
Aberbargoed Junction
Aber Bargoed
Fleur de Lis platform
Maesycwmmer Junction
to Pontypool
Gwernydomen Halt
Barry Railway
to Barry Junction
Fountain Bridge Halt
Waterloo Halt
White Hart Halt
Machen Quarry
Church Road
to Alexandra Docks

The Brecon Mountain Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Mynydd Brycheiniog) is a 1 ft 11 34 in (603 mm) narrow gauge tourist railway on the south side of the Brecon Beacons. It climbs northwards from Pant along the full length of the Pontsticill Reservoir (also called 'Taf Fechan' reservoir by Welsh Water) and continues past the adjoining Pentwyn reservoir to Torpantau. The railway's starting point at Pant is located two miles (3 km) north of the town centre of Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, South-East Wales.

Route of the BMR[edit]

The line runs along part of the trackbed of the northern section of the former 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Brecon and Merthyr Railway from Pant to a new station at Torpantau, via Pontsticill and Dolygaer, a total of about 4.5 miles (7 km).

This takes the BMR just short of the southern entrance to the 667 yd (610 m) long Torpantau tunnel, the highest railway tunnel in Great Britain,[2] which carried the original line through the hills along the side of Glyn Collwn to Brecon or to Moat Lane or Hereford via junctions at Talyllyn and Three Cocks.

One of the benefits of the line, and a condition of the planning permission, is that tourists can access and experience part of the Brecon Beacons National Park without driving their cars through it.[3] Car parking for railway passengers is only available at Pant Station, outside the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Brecon Mountain Railway is a member of the Great Little Trains of Wales.


The Brecon Mountain Railway was founded in the mid-1970s, by Tony Hills. Hills was a long time railway enthusiast who by 1970, had established a base at Gilfach Ddu on the Llanberis Lake Railway where he stored the locomotives he purchased. In 1977, he purchased five miles of trackbed of the abandoned Brecon & Merthyr Railway at Pant and moved his collection there.[4] Construction of the BMR started in 1978, with the grant of a Light Railway Order in 1980.[5] Track was laid between Pant and Pontsticill in 1979-80. At Pontsticill the station house was renovated, the old waiting room was converted into a small workshop and a storage shed was built. Seven bridges were repaired or replaced. The railway opened to passengers in June 1980 using the engine Sybil and one carriage.

Between 1982 and 1996 a large station and workshop were built at Pant. These provide passenger facilities including toilets, cafe, shop and booking office as well as the extensive workshop used to build and maintain the railway locomotives, carriages and wagons.

A 1 12 miles (2.4 km) extension from Pontsticill to Dol-y-Gaer opened in 1995. The railway was further extended to Torpantau, just short of the southern entrance of the Torpantau Tunnel, with passenger services commencing 1 April 2014.

By 2016, the original waiting room building at Pontsticill, which had served as a workshop for a period, was converted to a steam museum housing various stationary steam engines and three of the smaller locomotives. All of the stationary units were connected up to a steam distribution header and boiler which in 2017 was still awaiting commissioning.

Stations of the BMR[edit]

  • Pant - southern terminus of the BMR.
  • Pontsticill - at the southern end of the Pontsticill reservoir.
  • Dolygaer - station closed, but passing loop in use.
  • Torpantau - current northern terminus of the BMR.


Full list of locomotives at the site:[6]

Builder Works No. Date Type Name or Number Status
Baldwin 15511 1897 2-6-2 1 Undergoing restoration in the workshops.
Baldwin 61269 1930 4-6-2 2 Operational. Originally built for the Eastern Province Cement Company in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Acquired by the Brecon Mountain Railway around 1990, and restored to full working order in 1997.[7]
Baldwin Original was No. 23 2-6-2 3 Original locomotives scrapped in 1936. Replicas are being constructed[when?] in the workshops from the original drawings.
Baldwin Original was No. 10. 2-4-4T 4
Brecon Mountain Railway 001 1987 0-6-0DH Operational.
De Winton 1894 0-4-0VBT Pendyffryn On display but is in working order.
Hunslet Engine Co. 827 1903 0-4-0ST Sybil On display but is in working order.
Jung 1261 1908 0-6-2WT+T Graf Schwerin-Löwitz 99-3553 Operational.
Redstone 1905 0-4-0VBTT On display but is in working order.
Wickham 10943 1976 2w-2PMR Operational.
Kambarka TU7-1698 1981 4w-4wDH The loco came from a Peat Railway at Seda, in Latvia.[8]
Kambarka 706.951[9] 1985 4w-4wDH The loco came from the Tatra Electric Railway, in Slovakia.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs (Ed.), Gerald (2005). Railway Track Diagrams Book 3: Western. Trackmaps, Bradford upon Avon. ISBN 0-9549866-1-X. 
  2. ^ Accessed 18 December 2012
  3. ^ accessed 18 December 2012.
  4. ^ Johnson, Peter (9 November 2015). "Tony Hills obituary". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ Notice of Light Railway Order application, 1979
  6. ^ UK Locos - Preserved, Private, Hired & Industrial Locos
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 November 2011. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  10. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°48′33″N 3°22′02″W / 51.8093°N 3.36731°W / 51.8093; -3.36731