Torpantau railway station

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Torpantau railway station
Brecon Mountain Railway - Torpantau Station (geograph 4037539).jpg
The station in 2014, two months after re-opening.
General information
LocationBrecon Beacons, Powys
Coordinates51°50′26″N 3°22′51″W / 51.84052°N 3.38090°W / 51.84052; -3.38090Coordinates: 51°50′26″N 3°22′51″W / 51.84052°N 3.38090°W / 51.84052; -3.38090
Grid referenceSO049166
Operated byBrecon Mountain Railway
Platforms1 (historically 2)
Other information
Original companyBrecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Pre-groupingBrecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Post-groupingGreat Western Railway
Key dates
1863Station opened
31 December 1962Station closed
2014Station reopened on adjacent site
Brecon Mountain Railway
Road bridge
Bridge over Nant Callan
Dolygaer loop
Road bridge
Road bridge
Pontsticill railway museum
Pontsticill sheds
Pant depot and engineering works

Torpantau railway station is a station in the Welsh county of Brecknockshire (now in Powys), and the northern terminus of the narrow gauge Brecon Mountain Railway.

It had previously been a station on the standard gauge line from Merthyr to Brecon, and was the highest station on the Brecon and Merthyr Railway.

The standard gauge and narrow gauge stations are in the same broad location, but on different specific sites, on opposite sides of the Torpantau to Abercynafon road.


A 1957 view northward towards Torpantau Tunnel.

The station was opened at the end of 1862 by the Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway. Torpantau is a remote location, though a few passengers may have worked on the local dams, or fished there for leisure. The location was most significant in operational terms for watering engines and tying down brakes before a descent.

In 1916 a train passed a signal at danger near the station causing a collision that killed two people.[1]

The line and the station first became part of the Great Western Railway (GWR) during the grouping of 1923, and then part of British Railways (BR) in 1948, following the nationalisation of the railways consequent upon the Transport Act 1947.

Torpantau closed to passengers in December 1962, but the line was retained for freight workings to Brecon until 4 May 1964. The route was subsequently abandoned, and the track lifted.

Torpantau Tunnel[edit]

To the north of the station lies Torpantau Tunnel (also known as Beacons Tunnel), through the Beacons pass. The tunnel is 666 yards (609m) long, and the south-west portal (railway mileage 14miles-2¾ chains from Brecon station) was reached after a three-mile (5 km) ascent from the Merthyr side. Exiting from the tunnel (13 miles-52¼ chains from Brecon station) to the south-east, the line descended for 6¾ miles along the side of Glyn Collwyn (now flooded to form a reservoir) and on to the former Talybont-on-Usk station and River Usk at Talybont. Thence it climbed to Pennorth and Talyllyn junction and on to Brecon.

At an elevation of 1,313 feet (400 m), it was the highest standard gauge rail tunnel above sea level in regular use anywhere in Great Britain. Though access is discouraged, the tunnel remains accessible on foot.[2] East and west portals of the tunnel are Grade II listed building.[3]

Re-opened station[edit]

From the late 1970s, the Brecon Mountain Railway (BMR) began relaying 2 ft-gauge track along the original railway route, northwards from Pant. The line re-opened to Pontsticill in 1980, and to Dolygaer in 1995. Re-laying continued, and the line reached Torpantau in December 2000. For operational and access reasons, Torpantau station was rebuilt slightly south of the original site, on the opposite side of the road. The nearby original station site is a popular start point for walks in the Brecon Beacons. It lies on the National Cycle Network NCR 8 (Taff Trail).

Due to motive power constraints on the steeply graded trackbed, the extended line from Dolygaer to Torpantau, a distance of 1mile-35chains, was used only by engineering trains from 2000 to 2014, whilst the BMR worked to restore a more powerful steam locomotive. Having achieved this aim, the extension to Torpantau became operational on 1 April 2014.[4] Torpantau station reopened on that date, and is now the railway's northern terminus.

Preceding station Heritage Railways  Heritage railways Following station
Terminus   Brecon Mountain Railway   Pontsticill
Disused railways
Pentir Rhiw
Line and station closed
  Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Northern section
Line and station closed


  1. ^ Accident at Torpantau on 3 February 1916
  2. ^ "Torpantau Tunnel at the Black Mountains". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013. Tunnel description
  3. ^ Good Stuff IT Services. "Torpantau tunnel - E portal - Talybont-on-Usk - Powys - Wales". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  4. ^ "The Brecon Mountain Railway". Retrieved 10 February 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]