Vale of Glamorgan Line
|Vale of Glamorgan Line|
Bridgend county borough
Vale of Glamorgan
|Number of tracks||Double track throughout except from Bridgend to Bridgend Barry Junction, Barry South Junction to Barry Island and Cogan Junction to Penarth|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The official titled Vale of Glamorgan Line is a commuter line in the United Kingdom, running through the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, from Barry to Bridgend via Rhoose and Llantwit Major. The main line is the Barry Branch which starts at Cardiff West and runs to Barry Island with a single line branch from Cogan Junction to Penarth. In 1964, the line between Barry and Bridgend was closed by the Beeching Axe, as seen in the report 'The Reshaping of Britain's Railways', but after 41 years, in 2005, the Vale of Glamorgan branch was reopened with two new stations at Llantwit Major and Rhoose, and the disused bay platform (now '1A') at Bridgend was reinstated to act as a terminus for the Vale Line. It came to the conclusion that freight trains to/from the Ford Factory in Bridgend and Aberthaw Power Station and a detour for main line trains kept the section of track from being lifted, which saved the Vale Line. Network Rail's mileage from Barry Junction zero to Bridgend is 19. Official Network Rail engineer's line references (ELRs) for the three branches are VOG, BRY and PTH. Geographically, the Barry branch runs into Vale of Glamorgan territory at the River Ely viaduct 1½ rail miles from the Cardiff West zero. Following the dramatic rationalisation that was to come about on South Wales railways after the 1960s, a large station board at Barry had announced "Change here for the Vale of Glamorgan Line." No such sign now exists but passengers must be made aware that if they board a Bridgend train, if wishing to get to Barry Island they must change trains at Barry station. Thus if boarding a Barry Island train and wishing to travel to Rhoose (for Cardiff International Airport), Llantwit Major or Bridgend, they must change at Barry station.
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 and was known as the Vale of Glamorgan Railway.  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 the Aberthaw power stations (Aberthaw "A" in February 1966 and Aberthaw "B" station in the early 1970s) and the Ford engine plant at Bridgend in January 1980.
The Vale of Glamorgan Barry-Bridgend passenger service finished on 13 June 1964 as part of the Beeching cuts, but passenger trains on the eastern part of the Barry Branch from Cardiff-Barry-Barry Island continued, and the western section continued to be used by through passenger trains between Cardiff and Bridgend when the main line via Pontyclun is closed. This still frequently happens at night or on Sundays and train operators can run freight traffic via this route to retain train crew route knowledge or to avoid delays on the main South Wales line.
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.(These workings were considerably modified by 2016 and the Vale of Neath line to Cwmgwrach was in mothball). Rhoose cement works has closed and has been demolished but a connection is retained to Tarmac's (LaFarge) Aberthaw cement works where wagons had been stored occasionally but after sporadic use, three cement trains per week were started from December 2016, to Westbury and Moorswater.
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 Barry (BRY), Penarth (PTH) and Vale of Glamorgan (VOG) branches are currently operated by Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) as part of the Valley Lines network. ATW replaced the previous franchise, Wales & Borders in December 2003.
The city, towns and villages served by the stations on the line are listed below.
- Cardiff Central
- Branch line diverges as a single line from Cogan Junction to Penarth
- Dinas Powys
- Barry Docks
- Barry Branch line diverges as a single line to Barry Island
- Rhoose for 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.
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