South Wales Railway

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South Wales Railway
Cross Country Route
to Birmingham
to Bristol
to docks and GRC&W Works
Gloucester Eastgate
Gloucester Docks
Gloucester (GWR)
River Severn
Alney Island
River Severn
Ledbury and Gloucester Railway
Oakle Street
Grange Court
Hereford, Ross and Gloucester Railway
Westbury-on-Severn Halt
Ruddle Road Halt
Bullo Pill Railway
Bullo Pill (Goods only)
Awre for Blakeney
Forest of Dean Central Railway
Severn Bridge Railway to Sharpness
Severn Railway Bridge
over River Severn
Severn Bridge
Severn Bridge Tunnel
enlarge… Lydney
Lydney Junction
Lydney Harbour Branch
Dean Forest Railway
Tinworks branch
Wye Valley Railway
Tutshill for Beachley Halt
Chepstow East
Chepstow Bridge
over River Wye
Bristol and South Wales Union Railway
Portskewett (original location)
("Portskewett Junction" 1863–1886)
South Wales Main Line
via Severn Tunnel
Caerwent Training Area
Severn Tunnel Junction
Undy Halt
flying junction
Bishton Crossing
Llanwern station / steelworks
Goods line to Uskmouth
Welsh Marches Line
to Abergavenny and Hereford
River Usk
Newport High Street
Brecon and Merthyr Railway
to Ebbw Vale
Alexandra Dock
Brecon and Merthyr Railway
to Machen and Merthyr Tydfil
River Rhymney
Rhymney Railway to Caerphilly
Cardiff Queen Street
Taff Vale Railway to Pontypridd
Cardiff Central
Bute Street
Queen Alexandra Dock
P and A Campbell ferry
across the River Severn
Barry Railway
to Barry, Penarth and Vale of Glamorgan
Cardiff Canton Locomotive Depot
Ninian Park
Leckwith Junction
Penarth Harbour and Dock Railway
to Taffs Well
Ely Main Line
St Fagans
St Fagans Junction
Barry Railway
to Barry Up arrow
Left arrow to Tynycaeau Junction
Drope Junction
Ely Valley Railway
Cowbridge and Aberthaw Railway
Cardiff and Ogmore Valley Railway
Barry Railway to Vale of Glamorgan
Llynvi and Ogmore Railway to Maesteg
Llynvi and Ogmore Railway to Tondu
Pyle Junction
Llynvi and Ogmore Railway
to Porthcawl
Port Talbot Railway to Tondu
Port Talbot Railway to Tonmawr
Junction (Mean)
Port Talbot
Port Talbot Docks
Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway
to Treherbert
South Wales Mineral Railway
to Tonmawr
Briton Ferry
Swansea District Line
Vale of Neath Railway
River Neath
Swansea District Line
to Swansea docks
Landore Viaduct
over River Tawe
Landore High Level
Swansea High Street
Cockett Tunnel
Gowerton North
Loughor Viaduct
Trostre Tinplate Works
Pembrey and Burry Port
Lando Platform
Kidwelly Flats Halt
Carmarthen Junction
for Carmarthen Aberystwyth Line via Lampeter
St Clears
West Wales Line to Pembroke Dock
former line to Cardigan
Rosebush loop
Clarbeston Road
Fishguard branch
Wolf's Castle Halt
Welsh Hook Halt
Mathry Road
Rosebush loop
Jordanston Halt
Fishguard and Goodwick
Fishguard Harbour
Ferry to Rosslare Europort
Waterston oil refinery
Robeston oil refinery
Milford Haven
Newton Noyes
Hakin Docks

The South Wales Railway was a 7 ft (2,134 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.[1]

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,[2] and linking with the rest of the existing 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge system at Gloucester. This diversion added an extra 18 miles (29 km) to the journey between South Wales and London.[1]

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.[3] 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)[4] 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 to a lack of wagons. These were eventually resolved when in January 1862 the two companies merged.

In May 1872, the South Wales Main Line was re-gauged from broad gauge to standard gauge.[5]

In 1886, the direct route to South Wales was implemented with the opening of the Severn Tunnel between Bristol and Severn Tunnel Junction.


Vale of Neath Railway opened from Neath
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


Includes stations opened by the Great Western Railway and subsequent operators


  1. ^ a b La Luciole – Britain's 7 ft (2,134 mm) gauge railways
  2. ^ Grange Court
  3. ^ MacDermot, E T (1927). History of the Great Western Railway, volume I 1833–1863. London: Great Western Railway. 
  4. ^ Jones, Stephen K. (2006). Brunel in South Wales. II: Communications and Coal. Stroud: The History Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780752439181. 
  5. ^ Hodge, John (2002). The South Wales Main Line. Part Two: Severn Tunnel to Newport. Wild Swan Publications. p. 1. ISBN 1-874103-76-3. 

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