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Cardiff and its Branches

This  is an extract from the page on Valley Lines. To access the main site select either the Taff Valleys and Cardiff section, the Rhymney Valley, Cardiff and coast section, or the full version which combines the two.
Select this link to return to the Gazetteer of Stations or Route Sections page.

Trevithick 1804-2004
February 21 2004 marked the 200th anniversary of the first steam train to run on rails. The historic journey began in Merthyr Tydfil, and throughout 2004, a series of commemorative events took place, which can be reviewed
here.

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Please note. The period of validity of the National Network timetables has changed.
Any times and travel details given  apply only for the currency of the timetable valid from May 18 to December 13 2014.

 The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff staged eleven Olympics 2012 football matches between July 25th and August 10th. Four of the opening matches involved teams in the Women's Tournament, and the last game was the play-off for the bronze medal in the Men's event won 2 - 0 by Japan.  

Cardiff...
...is the gateway to the coast and Valley areas of south east Wales.
A city since 1905, and the capital of Wales since 1955, Cardiff stands at the mouth of the River Taff (part of which was diverted in the mid-nineteenth century to clear a site for what is now Cardiff Central railway station). Noted for its Victorian arcades and pedestrianised shopping areas, it also offers top class facilities for sport, theatre and the cinema.
Cardiff Castle with the clock tower to the left, and the Norman Keep at upper centreCardiff Castle (left)  has Roman and Norman connections, but, apart from Roman remains at the base of the south east walls, the Norman Keep and the 15th century Western Apartments, what you see is mostly a Victorian reconstruction.
Nearby, the civic centre is considered among the finest in Europe, and incorporates the museum, law courts, the former Welsh Office (now the secretariat of the Welsh Assembly), university buildings and the City Hall. With a referendum in September 1997 narrowly voting for the establishment of a Welsh Assembly to govern Wales, the City Hall was one of the venues under consideration to house the body, but the Assembly - which first sat on June 1 1999 - was first housed in Crickhowell House in Cardiff Bay but has moved into the adjacent Senedd (Welsh for Senate) Building (see below).
Behind City Hall is Alexandra Gardens with its imposing War Memorial commemorating two World Wars and more recent conflicts.
The floodlit Millennium Stadium on the banks of the River TaffIn the city centre, the other building of great antiquity is St John's Church, parts of which date from the thirteenth century.
There are several malls off the pedestrianised shopping area, which also has St David's Hall - renowned for concerts by top-class orchestras and entertainers - and the Motorpoint International Arena, the venue for conferences, pop concerts, ice shows, and the like.
St David's Phase Two, a new shopping mall on the southern side of the city centre, opened on October 22 2009.
The New Theatre celebrated its centenary in 2006, and stages plays and other productions, including those by the internationally-celebrated Welsh National Opera until the WNO moved into its new home: the Wales Millennium Centre for the Performing Arts (see below) which opened in November 2004 with a spectacular Gala concert attended by Her Majesty The Queen.
Close to the city centre, on the banks of the river, the Millennium Stadium (right) is the home of Welsh Rugby. Opened for a Wales v South Africa friendly in June 1999, it took on international importance when it staged early rounds of the Rugby World Cup that October, and the Final on 6 November of the same year. It is now used to stage Wales' home games in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, international football matches, concerts and other high-profile events. While Wembley Stadium was being developed it was also the venue of prestigious football matches, including the Worthington and FA Cup Finals. A very versatile building, it also stages speedway, monster truck and religious conventions.
In 2012 Olympic Women's football, and men's finals were staged in the Stadium.
A mile to the south, the Cardiff Bay development has transformed the derelict docklands area into a leisure, residential and light-industrial complex, while the barrage which dams the mouths of the Taff and Ely rivers was brought into operation on November 4 1999 to create a 500-acre freshwater lake. It is now possible to walk over the barrage from Cardiff Bay to Penarth. In June 2012, the Dr Who Experience opened, dedicated, as the name suggests, to all things Dr Who, which is filmed in the Porth Teigr studios a short distance away, as well as locations around the city and farther afield.
To the north of the city, is Llandaff Cathedral, which has been a place of worship for more than 1,400 years. Partly destroyed by bombs during World War II, the cathedral was rebuilt and rededicated in 1958, its nave overarched by the sculpture of Christ in Majesty by Jacob Epstein.
On the city's western boundary is the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan's, which recreates the Welsh way of life in authentic buildings from all over Wales. Dismantled brick-by-brick from their original locations and reassembled at St Fagan's - itself a manor house dating from the Civil War era - they provide a base for many practitioners of old crafts such as pottery and woodcarving, and also includes a blacksmith's forge.

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Cardiff Bay

CARDIFF BAY

Please note. The period of validity of the National Network timetables has changed.
Any times and travel details given  apply only for the currency of the timetable valid from May 18 2014 to September 7 2014.

Cardiff Bay station is reached via a short spur from Cardiff Queen Street with a journey time of three minutes, and Monday to Saturday trains run every 12 minutes on the hour and 12, 24, 36 and 48 past the hour between 6.36am and 11.48pm .

From Cardiff Bay to Queen Street, Monday to Saturday, trains run at 6, 18, 30, 42 and 54 minutes past the hour between 6.42am and 11.54pm.

On Sundays trains run to Cardiff Bay on the hour and 12, 24, 36 and 48 past the hour between 9.00am and 6.48pm.
Return journeys from the Bay are at 6, 18, 30, 42 and 54 minutes past the hour between 9.06am and 6.54pm.

The Cardiff Bay area has been developed as a waterfront park with leisure, residential and light-industrial complexes on reclaimed derelict dockland, and is the start of the Taff Trail which can be followed as far as Brecon, 57 miles away.
The major feature is the Barrage which can be reached by road train from its stop outside the car park in Stuart Street. You can also walk across the barrage as far as Penarth, passing en route the new Dr Who Experience which opened on July 20 2012, close to the new BBC studio complex at Roath Lock where Dr Who, Casualty, Sherlock and other prestigious productions are made.
The Pierhead Building with the Senedd debating chamber at rightThe Welsh assembly meets in the Senedd (Welsh for Senate), the  new debating chamber which has been built alongside the Pierhead Building (pictured left, a striking terracotta edifice that was once the headquarters of the Bute Dock and Railway Company, which opened the first of the docks in 1839, and was the prime influence behind the Taff Vale Railway. It is now used as the Visitor Centre for the National Assembly.
The Millennium Centre with (at right) water cascading down the steel column, supposedly the entrance to Torchwood in the TV seriesThe Wales Millennium Centre for the Performing Arts opened in November 2004 with a spectacular Gala Concert attended by Her Majesty the Queen. It is the home of Welsh National Opera and seven other performing arts groups including the Urdd, the Welsh organisation for the youth of Wales. Adjoining is Alun Hoddinot Hall, named after the late Welsh composer, which is a base for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Outside the Millennium Centre is Roald Dahl Place - named after the children's writer who was born in the Cardiff suburb of Llandaff - built on the site of the basin of the Bute West Dock, now used for street theatre and open-air concerts. The steel column with water cascading down it (at extreme right in the photograph alongside) will be recognised by fans of Torchwood - the spin-off from the successful BBC Wales television series Dr Who, filmed largely in Cardiff and the surrounding area - as supposedly the entrance to Torchwood. The latest series of Torchwood has emigrated to the United States, though.
A coffee bar and art gallery has been established in the Norwegian Seamen's Church where Roald Dahl was baptised as a child. A short distance away was 'The Tube' - a cigar-shaped structure which housed the Cardiff Bay visitors' centre. It was the base for the Spirit of Cardiff, a powerboat which attempted the fastest circumnavigation of the world in 2002. The target was almost 25,000 miles in 50 days, calling at 26 different countries, but a series of misadventures, culminating in a heart attack suffered by one of the crew, led to the attempt being abandoned, though not before a number of records were broken,
Tied up permanently at the quay alongside the site of The Tube is the Helwick Lightship, which was stationed off the Gower Peninsular guarding a treacherous sandbank 50 miles northwest of Cardiff, but is now used as a Christian Fellowship centre.
A short distance along the quay is a sculpture recognising the role of miners and the mining industry in creating the wealth which made Cardiff the foremost coal exporting port in Britain; the foundation of the capital city we see today.
A water taxi passes in front of the pier and TechniquestA little farther away, Techniquest is a unique hands-on science centre which demonstrates scientific principles and phenomena in colourful and surprising ways.
The St David's Hotel was one of the first Five-Star rated establishments in the city. Mermaid Quay a is modern eating and shopping complex which also overlooks Plas Roald Dahl (Roald Dahl Place).
Boats and water taxis (pictured left) ply their trade around the bay and up-river as far as the Castle near the city centre. They will also land you on the Barrage itself - also reached on foot from near the Norwegian Church - where you can see the massive sluice gates in operation.

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CITY LINE

Please note. The period of validity of the National Network timetables has changed.
Any times and travel details given  apply only for the currency of the timetable valid from May 18 2014 to September 7 2014.

Between Radyr and Cardiff Central via Danescourt, trains run at 4 and 34 minutes past the hour between 7.04am and 7.04pm, then at 8.04pm, 9.04pm and 10.04pm.
From Cardiff Central, trains to Radyr run at 6 and 36 minutes past the hour between 7.06am and 6.36pm, then at 7.36pm, 8.36pm, 9.36pm and 10.55pm.

There is no service on Sundays.

Special fares and/or timetables will apply to all Valley Line services on event days at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

City Line serves the western suburbs of Cardiff, linking with the Cardiff-Pontypridd Route at Radyr.
Although the line was opened in 1859 to provide a though route for Taff Vale Railway mineral trains bound for Penarth Docks, it was not until 1987 that the line saw its first regular passenger service. Previously it had been used as a diversionary route and for football specials to the Halt near Cardiff City's ground at Ninian Park, but the provision of passenger trains on the branch was an important plank in the joint rail strategy of Mid and South Glamorgan County Councils, and called for the building of four new stations and the refurbishing of disused Ninian Park halt. The branch opened to passengers on 'Funday' the 4th October 1987, but Waungron Park station did not open until 6th November.
At the northern end of the line, was Radyr marshalling yard which controlled the countless millions of coal wagons on their way to the ports of Cardiff Penarth and Barry.

The branch serves mainly residential areas of western Cardiff.

From Cardiff Central, the line heads west to skirt the southern boundary of the Rolling Stock maintenance depot where Valley Line trains are serviced.
Ninian Park, the first stop, is  near the former ground of Cardiff City football club. For the start of the 2009/10 season the club moved a short distance away to Cardiff City Stadium. This was built on the site of Cardiff Athletic stadium. Houses and maisonettes have been built on land once occupied by dozens of railway sidingsAcross the road from the new stadium site, replacement athletic facilities had already opened. To the east is the shopping centre of Canton, and St John's Church, easily found by aiming for its lofty spire which dominates the skyline.
Waungron Park - unusual for its staggered platforms, one of which straddles a bridge over the roadway - serves the eastern parts of Fairwater and Ely. There are a number of small factories close by.
Fairwater is within reach of Cantonian Upper High and the Bishop of Llandaff High Schools, while in nearby Fairwater Park there is a dry ski slope.
Danescourt is almost entirely residential, though here is a pleasant walk from the north of the housing estate to Radyr, which passes through a wooded area with picnic tables. In the heyday of coal traffic, there was an important marshalling yard at Radyr, where City Line trains link with those on the Pontypridd-Cardiff corridor, but all traces have disappeared under a web of residential estates (pictured left).
From Radyr station there are pleasant walks along the River Taff to Radyr Weir where salmon may be seen leaping in season. The path also gives access to Forest Farm and Glamorganshire Canal nature reserves.

 

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CORYTON BRANCH

Please note. The period of validity of the National Network timetables has changed.
Any times and travel details given  apply only for the currency of the timetable valid from May 18 2014 to September 7 2014.

From Coryton to Cardiff Central, there is a half-hourly service at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour between 6.15am and 7.15pm, then at 8.15pm, 9.15pm and 10.45pm.
Trains from Cardiff Central to Coryton are at 5.49am, then half-hourly at 21 and 51 minutes past the hour between 6.21am and 6.51pm; then at 7.51pm, 8.51pm and 10.21pm.

There is no service on Sundays.

Special fares and/or timetables will apply to all Valley Line services on event days at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Places of interest
From Queen Street station trains share the same track as those on the Rhymney branch. The track threads through the northern suburb of Roath until, just beyond Cathays Cemetery (once served by a halt with a specially sloped platform to facilitate the transfer of coffins from trains into the burial ground) the Coryton branch diverges left from the main line. The first station is
Heath Low Level
(to distinguish it from the High Level station a short distance away on the Rhymney branch) which like most of the stations on the branch serves mainly residential areas. However, the northern edge of Roath Park - the largest Park in Cardiff - is not too far away.
Ty Glas is the newest station on the branch and was opened in 1987 as part of the joint rail strategy. It serves a number of light-industrial units as well as offices and a bakery.
From Ty Glas, the track is unusual in that it runs in a straight line almost to Coryton, 2 kilometres away, and the remaining stations on the branch are within sight of each other.
Birchgrove serves industrial units being built on the site of the Royal Ordnance factory as well as Hill Snook Park. Caedelyn Park is south of
Rhiwbina
station, while
Whitchurch
is convenient for the nearby golf club.
Coryton
serves Coryton and the north of Whitchurch, with Whitchurch and Velindre Hospitals, and the British Telecom training centre nearby. A little further afield, there is access to the Glamorganshire Canal nature reserve.
The Coryton branch is the only section of the valleys network which provides an historical link with present-day Cardiff Railway Company. It is the only surviving stretch of line which was built by the original Cardiff Railway Company.
Opened in 1909, the route extended from Heath Junction to Treforest, joining the Taff Vale's line via a 450-ft skew bridge over the river Taff to a point just south of Treforest station. This immediately put the CR in legal dispute with the ever-litigatious TVR, so only one train ever ran over the northern section of the line. Today, only a low embankment glimpsed among the trees near the children's playground south of Treforest station and a pair of bridge abutments are the only reminders of the CR's venture. Passenger services commenced in 1911 but only as far as Rhydfelin. The section between here and Coryton was closed twenty years later in July 1931, though development of Nantgarw Colliery in 1938 saw the reopening of part of the route for mineral traffic.
In 1952 a new link to the colliery was built from just north of Taffs Well station on the Pontypridd-Cardiff branch, and the Coryton-Nantgarw section was closed finally the following year.

This page is an extract from the Valley Lines pages. To access the main site select either the Taff Valleys and Cardiff section, the  Ebbw Vale (Western Valleys), Rhymney Valley, Cardiff and coast section, or the full version which combines the two.
Select this link to return to the Gazetteer of Stations or Route Sections page.

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Copyright 1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created July 14 1996; Redesigned March 29 1999; Updated May 18 2014
If you have any suggestions, comments, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails