Vale of Glamorgan Line
|Vale of Glamorgan Line|
Bridgend county borough
Vale of Glamorgan
|No. of tracks||Double track throughout|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The Vale of Glamorgan Line is a Commuter rail in the United Kingdom, running through the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, from Cardiff to Bridgend via Barry, Rhoose and Llantwit Major. There are also branch lines to Penarth and Barry Island.
Originally part of the Barry Railway Company, the line opened from 1885. The whole of the Barry Railway, including Barry Docks, became a constituent part of the Great Western Railway in 1923, after the railway grouping. Local traffic on the line included that from the limestone quarries and the cement works at Aberthaw, and Rhoose cement works at the eastern end of the line. Wartime traffic was created from Tremains and Brackla Hill at Bridgend and the RAF base at St. Athan. More recent developments were the opening of Aberthaw power station in February 1966 and the Ford engine plant at Bridgend in January 1980.
The Barry-Bridgend passenger service finished on 13 June 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, but passenger trains on the eastern part of the line from Cardiff-Barry continued, and the western section continued to be used by through passenger trains between Cardiff and Bridgend when the main line via Pontyclun was closed. This still frequently happens at night and on Sundays and train operators ran empty coaching stock and empty mail trains via this route to retain train crew route knowledge.
By the late 1990s, a daily train runs between Ford’s plants at Dagenham and Bridgend and merry-go-round coal trains run between Onllwyn and Cwmgwrach (to the west), Tower Colliery, Newport Docks and Avonmouth (to the east), to Aberthaw power station averaging some 10 trains a day. Rhoose cement works has closed, and a connection is retained to Aberthaw cement works where wagons are stored.
Reopening to passengers
A pressure group called Railfuture  produced a booklet “Rails to the Vale” in 1997 in which it was stated that they believe: that a new daily passenger service through the vale could cover its costs – and even generate profits given time
With traffic increasing to Cardiff International Airport, the Local Government transport consortium SWIFT also identified the potential for reopening the Vale of Glamorgan line. The scheme was promoted by the Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend Borough Councils to the Welsh Assembly Government in August 1999. After agreeing funding, track upgrading and signalling works commenced in June 2004 with: 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of new track laid; 6.5 miles (10.5 km) of track upgraded; 15000 tonnes of ballast used; three new section signals (2 on the up and 1 on the down) were installed together with three distant signals and one repeater signal required by the curved approach to Llantwit Major Station. Final planning permission for the new stations and interchanges at Rhoose, Cardiff International Airport and Llantwit Major was granted in 2004 and from October 2004 the line was closed daily between Bridgend and Aberthaw or Barry for the station construction, with goods traffic passing at night. At Bridgend, the Barry bay was relaid and a new platform face built. Network Rail used three contractors: Mowlem for the permanent way; Carillion for signals and telephones; and Galliford Try for civil engineering, including the platforms. The Vale of Glamorgan Council was responsible for the construction of the interchanges at Rhoose, Cardiff International Airport and Llantwit Major. Network Rail spent £15m and the Vale of Glamorgan Council £2m making a grand total of £17m for the whole project. The daytime closures were shortened from April to enable crew training to commence.
The official opening was performed by Andrew Davies AM, Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Economic Development and Transport, on 10 June 2005. The section of line between Barry and Bridgend reopened for passenger services on 12 June, the first day of that year's Summer timetable, with a pair of Class 143's (143606 and 143624) working 0840 Cardiff-Bridgend and 0945 return. Arriva Trains Wales then ran a number of loco-hauled special services in conjunction with the Barry (waterfront) transport festival.
The cities, towns and villages served by the line are listed below.
- Cardiff Central
- Branch line diverges to Penarth
- Dinas Powys
- Branch line diverges to Barry Island
- Rhoose and Cardiff International Airport
- Llantwit Major
Electrification of the Line
On 16 July 2012 plans to electrify the line were announced by the Government as part of a £9.4bn package of investment of the railways in England and Wales.
The announcement was made as an extension of the electrification of the South Wales Main Line from Cardiff to Swansea and the electrification of the south Wales Valley Lines at a total cost of £350 million. The investment will require new trains and should result in reduced journeys times and a cheaper to maintain network. It is thought to start between 2014 and 2019.