Cardiff Central railway station

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Cardiff Central National Rail
Welsh: Caerdydd Canolog
Cardiff Central station (26526139271).jpg
Frontage of Cardiff Central station (northern entrance)
Place Cardiff
Local authority City and County of Cardiff
Coordinates 51°28′32″N 3°10′41″W / 51.4755°N 3.1780°W / 51.4755; -3.1780Coordinates: 51°28′32″N 3°10′41″W / 51.4755°N 3.1780°W / 51.4755; -3.1780
Grid reference ST181758
Station code CDF
Managed by Arriva Trains Wales
Owned by Network Rail
Number of platforms 8
DfT category A
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2012/13 Increase 11.638 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.534 million
2013/14 Increase 11.740 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.698 million
2014/15 Increase 11.939 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.755 million
2015/16 Increase 12.745 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.853 million
2016/17 Decrease 12.535 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.901 million
19 June 1850 Opened
1932 Rebuilt
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Cardiff Central from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal
Railway lines in Cardiff
To Rhymney
To Coryton
Heath Low Level/High Level(Interchange)
To Pontypridd
Waun-Gron Park
To Bridgend
Cardiff Queen Street(Interchange)
To Newport and England
Ninian Park
Cardiff Central(Interchange)
Cardiff Riverside
Canal Parade goods depot
Bute West docks
Bute East docks (Atlantic Wharf)
East Moors depot
Cardiff Bay
Roath docks
Cardiff Bay quayside
Queen Alexandra docks
Penarth Flats docks
Penarth Moors docks
To Barry and Rhoose Cardiff Airport
To Penarth

Cardiff Central railway station (Welsh: Caerdydd Canolog) is a major railway station on the South Wales Main Line in Cardiff, United Kingdom and one of two hubs of the city's urban rail network.

It is the largest and busiest station in Wales and one of the major stations of the British rail network, the eleventh busiest station in the United Kingdom outside London (29th busiest overall), based on 2009/10 total entries and exits.[1]

It is located in Central Square in the city centre and is one of 20 railway stations in the city and one of two in the city centre, the other being Cardiff Queen Street, both of which are hubs for the Valley Lines urban rail network, with several lines in Cardiff and the surrounding valleys.

Cardiff Central is a Grade II listed building managed by Arriva Trains Wales. It is an interchange between the rest of South and West Wales, and other major British cities. Arriva Trains Wales operate services to West Wales, Holyhead, Crewe and Manchester, as well as the South Wales Valley Lines. Great Western Railway runs intercity services to Bristol and London, and regional services to Bath, Taunton, Southampton and Portsmouth, whilst CrossCountry operates trains to Gloucester, Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester.


Cardiff Central after cleaning in February 1975

In the early 1840s the South Wales Railway was trying to find a suitable site for a railway station, but the area that is now Cardiff Central railway station was prone to flooding. It was Isambard Kingdom Brunel's solution to divert the River Taff to the west, creating a larger and safer site for the station.[2] The initial part of the South Wales Railway between Chepstow and Swansea through Cardiff was opened on 18 June 1850, with all trains operated by the Great Western Railway (GWR) under a lease agreement.[3][page needed]

Between 1932 and 1934, the GWR replaced the original station building (also designed by their architects department under their chief architect Percy Emerson Culverhouse) with an impressive new Art Deco building faced in Portland stone, enclosing including a booking hall with noted Art Deco light fittings, all topped by a clock cupola.[4] The Great Western Railway has its full name carved onto the façade (larger than the name of the station). As a result of representations by the GWR, a nearby working-class district, Temperance Town, was cleared during the late 1930s in order to improve the outlook of the rebuilt station.[5]

Cardiff Riverside railway station in 1993

The formerly separate Cardiff Riverside station of 1893 served the Cardiff Riverside branch railway. This was integrated into the main station in 1940 but its platforms ceased to be used for passenger traffic in the 1960s.[6][page needed]

Initially named Cardiff, the station was renamed Cardiff General in July 1924 and Cardiff Central in May 1973.[7][8]

The station, its entrances and platforms, are Grade II listed.[9]

Station layout[edit]

There are two entrances to the station. The northern main entrance leads to the main concourse and is on Central Square. Three main city centre landmarks are visible from here: the Millennium Stadium, Stadium House and Southgate House.[10]

The southern entrance is at the rear of the station on Tresillian Way, accessed from Penarth Road, where the station car park is found.

The railway lines are above the station's concourses. Two subways, one each at the eastern and western side of the station, run parallel under the tracks linking the two main entrances, from which the platforms are accessed by stairs and lifts, with the exception of Platform 0 which is accessed from the main concourse near Marks and Spencer. A valid ticket is required to pass through a barrier and gain access to the platforms.


The majority of facilities are in the main concourse, including ticket desks and machines, cash machines, an information desk, LED departures and arrivals screens, public telephones, a newsagent, and food shops. The station has the only First Class waiting room in Wales.[11][12] Outside, an NCP pay-and-display car park provides 248 spaces.[13]


British Transport Police maintains a presence at Cardiff Central.[14] In December 2009, the force announced a three-month pilot scheme to arm officers at the station, as well as in London and Manchester, with stun guns.[15]


Aerial view of Cardiff Central

Cardiff Central has eight platforms, numbered 0, 1, 2, 3a/b, 4a/b, 6, 7 and 8. There is no longer, despite signage, a Platform 5; this was a west-facing bay platform situated between Platforms 3 and 4.[17]

Platforms 3 and 4 are divided into 'A' and 'B' sections and are capable of holding two local trains or a single HST train. Other platforms can be used by more than one train, but are not sectioned.

Platform 6 is used by Valley Lines trains to the north and east of Cardiff and to the Valleys. Every train from Platform 6 calls at Cardiff Queen Street. Valley Line trains from Cardiff Queen Street call at Platform 7 and 8 and continue to north-west Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The normal pattern of usage is:


The modernised southern entrance and booking hall

In 2011 it was announced that Cardiff Central would be enhanced with a new platform ('Platform 8') and a new two-storey southern entrance and booking hall. This was part of a £200m regeneration scheme to boost train capacity in Cardiff and the surrounding areas. Work is expected to start from June 2014. The Assembly Government has committed £7m for the overall enhancements programme[18]

The old Grade II listed Water Tower (next to Platform 0 and the River Taff) was repainted in 2012 in the original brown and beige colours of the Great Western railway.[19]

Central Square[edit]

Central Square is the large public space directly outside the main entrance to the station. Formerly the location of Cardiff Central bus station, redevelopment of the square started in Autumn 2015. New buildings on Central Square are to house the new headquarters and studios of BBC Wales, together with office and retail space.



Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Cardiff Queen Street   Arriva Trains Wales
Coryton - Cardiff Queen Street - Radyr
  Ninian Park
Cardiff Queen Street   Arriva Trains Wales
Rhondda Line
Cardiff Queen Street   Arriva Trains Wales
Rhymney Line
  Arriva Trains Wales
Vale Line
Pye Corner   Arriva Trains Wales
Cardiff Central - Ebbw Vale Town
Newport   Arriva Trains Wales
Maesteg / Cardiff Central - Cheltenham Spa
Newport   Arriva Trains Wales
Cardiff - Holyhead via Wrexham
Newport   Arriva Trains Wales
Cardiff Central - Manchester Piccadilly
  Arriva Trains Wales
South Wales Main Line
Newport   Arriva Trains Wales
North-South "Premier" service
Newport   CrossCountry
Cardiff Central-Manchester
Cardiff Central - Nottingham
Newport   Great Western Railway
London Paddington - Cardiff Central
  Great Western Railway
London Paddington - Swansea
Newport   Great Western Railway
Cardiff Central - Portsmouth Harbour
  Great Western Railway
Cardiff Central - Taunton

Rail & sea corridor to Ireland[edit]

Some of the Arriva Trains Wales boat trains to and from Fishguard Harbour commence at Cardiff Central. These connect with the Stena Line ferry to Rosslare Harbour in Ireland with a daily morning and evening service in both directions. This route has been in existence since 1906.


To the east of the platforms, the Valley Lines tracks rise up and cross over the South Wales Main Line using a bridge. Rail services were severely disrupted in August 2012 when the retaining wall between the tracks partially collapsed, spilling five tonnes of earth. The South Wales Main Line was swiftly reopened, but all services between Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street were cancelled, with a replacement bus service operating. It was expected that repairs could take two weeks.[20][21] There were worries that the bronze medal match in the 2012 Summer Olympics men's football competition, held at the nearby Cardiff Millennium Stadium could be disrupted, but most fans were due to arrive by the main line rather than the Valley Lines.[22] There had been severe congestion at the station earlier in the month due to another Olympic match.[23]

In December 2016, a serious accident was narrowly averted by the alertness of a driver. During the Cardiff Area Resignalling Scheme, a set of points had been left in an unsafe condition, and undetectable by the signalling system. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch report into the incident revealed that lessons learnt following the Clapham Junction rail crash in December 1988 appeared to have been forgotten. Excessive working hours and a lack of detailed planning were cited as contributory factors.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ DeltaRail Group Ltd. (February 2011). "Station Usage 2009/10" (PDF). London. 
  2. ^ "Cardiff Arms Park, A short History - The Creation of the Arms Park". Cardiff Council. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2008. 
  3. ^ MacDermot, E.T. (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, volume I 1833–1863. London: Great Western Railway. 
  4. ^ "Cardiff General Railway Station, Cardiff". Coflein. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Fisk, Stephen (June 2009). "Abandoned Communities - Temperance Town". Retrieved 3 November 2009. 
  6. ^ Barrie, D.S.M. (1980). South Wales. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-7970-4. 
  7. ^ Butt, R.J.V. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations. Patrick Stephens Ltd. p. 53. 
  8. ^ "Cardiff Timeline". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. 
  9. ^ "Cardiff Central Station, Booking Hall, Passenger Subway, Platforms 1-4, 6 & 7 and Platform Buildings". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Cardiff Central Station view". Google Maps. 
  11. ^ "First Class". First Great Western. 
  12. ^ "First Class Lounges at Major Train Stations". Virgin Trains. 
  13. ^ "Cardiff Central (CDF)". National Rail. 
  14. ^ "British Transport Police, Wales & Western Area". Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "Transport police to trial tasers on trains around Cardiff". Wales Online. 
  16. ^ "Route Plans 2008 - Route 15, South Wales Valleys" (PDF). Network Rail. p. 10. 
  17. ^ Potential reinstatement of this platform is mentioned on page 10 of Network Rail's route plan for the Valley Lines[16]
  18. ^ Law, Peter (9 February 2011). "Cardiff rail stations set for revamp". South Wales Echo. 
  19. ^ "Cardiff Central's landmark water tower renovation starts - without a daffodil in sight". Wales Online. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  20. ^ "Cardiff rail disruption 'to continue' after wall breaks". BBC News. BBC. 11 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Cardiff rail services disruption after wall collapse". BBC News. BBC. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  22. ^ "Cardiff wall collapse causes rail delays". BBC News. BBC. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  23. ^ "Olympic football: Team GB Cardiff quarter-final attracts thousands". BBC News. BBC. 5 August 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "Serious irregularity at Cardiff East Junction 29 December 2016" (PDF). Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Retrieved 30 October 2017. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to Cardiff Central railway station at Wikimedia Commons