Transport in Wales

This article is about means of transport within Wales.

Railways

Rail links with England

Wales has numerous rail links with neighbouring England. The following companies currently operate passenger services.

*"First Great Western" operates these services from Wales to England:
**London Paddington to Swansea via Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central and Bridgend
***Every other peak service terminates at Cardiff Central
**Cardiff Central to Portsmouth Harbour via Newport, Bristol Temple Meads, Bath Spa and Southampton Central
**Cardiff Central to Taunton via Newport, Bristol Temple Meads and Weston super Mare
*"Arriva Trains Wales" operates these services from Wales to England:
**Cardiff Central to Gloucester via Newport.
**Carmarthen to Manchester Piccadilly via Swansea, Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Newport, Abergavenny, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Crewe
***Some services begin from Cardiff Central
**Aberystwyth and Pwllheli to Birmingham New Street via Dovey Junction, Machynlleth, Newtown, Shrewsbury, Telford Central and Wolverhampton
**Swansea to Shrewsbury via Llanelli, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandrindod Wells
*"CrossCountry" operates:
**Cardiff Central to Nottingham via Newport, Gloucester, Cheltenham Spa, Birmingham New Street and Derby.
**Cardiff Central to Newcastle via Newport, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Birmingham New Street, Derby, Sheffield and York.
*"Virgin Trains" provides services from the North Wales:
**Holyhead to London Euston via Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl, Chester, Crewe, Stafford, Nuneaton or Birmingham New Street, Rugby, Milton Keynes Central and Watford Junction.

Passengers from the Valleys or from South and West Wales would therefore have to change at Cardiff Central or Newport for destinations throughout the UK.

A new Open Access company, Wrexham & Shropshire, commenced direct services from Wrexham General, in North Wales, to London Marylebone on 28 April 2008, and has made plans to provide a North-South Link with Cardiff.

Welsh network

Arriva Trains Wales operates all services within Wales. Until recently rail services on the main lines to the South Wales Valleys were operated under the Valley Lines brand but these have also been brought under the Arriva Trains Wales franchise.

Before the Beeching Axe and the general decline in rail traffic afterward, Wales boasted a large rail network considering its small geographical area. It had five major links linking East Wales to West Wales, now reduced to only three. There were several rural lines linking many of Wales's towns, to meet important raw material industries such as the slate quarries of Blaenau Ffestiniog, or the coal mines of South Wales. Under Beeching, many rural lines in North Wales and Mid Wales, such as the Ruabon Barmouth Line, were demolished and it was planned for the North Wales Coast Line to be a non-stop passenger service, effectively making it a service between Dublin and English cities. Beeching's destruction of the railway network although more limited than the original proposals split the railway network into three parts, connected only through England. In the South routes via Brecon and Builth were cut preventing train travel between South Wales and Mid Wales, while in the North most of the network was destroyed, leaving Caernarfon without a rail link and removing all links between the North West coast (left with only a slow link via Mid Wales), and the North Coast. This damage remains unrepaired today and makes train travel northwards through Wales impractical.

In recent years, the Welsh Assembly Government has announced its intention to reopen many of the disused or freight only lines and this has seen the Vale of Glamorgan Line between Cardiff and Bridgend put back into passenger use. Also the Ebbw Valley Line has been partially reopened with hourly passenger services between Ebbw Vale and Cardiff Central railway station. Proposals to reopen links to Hirwaun (with the closure of Tower Colliery) and to restore passenger services on the Swansea District Line remain in limbo.

The bulk of rail transport in Wales today is concentrated in the South with Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street and Newport being the busiest stations in the region. Other major stations include Bridgend, Wrexham General and Swansea.

Local rail and tram

The only form of suburban rail system in Wales is the Valley Lines network serving Cardiff and the South Wales valleys. However, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport had extensive tram systems until the mid 20th century. Plans were mooted for a modern tram system to serve Cardiff's urban areas in late 1990s but these were shelved due to the costs of building and maintaining such a system. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1765120.stm BBC News article on ULTra plans for Cardiff Sourced 22 February 2008] [http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2002/jan/16/transportintheuk Guardian article Sourced 22 February 2008] The only surviving tram service within Wales is the Great Orme Tramway, a cable hauled tramway in Llandudno which survives as a tourist attraction.

The world's first passenger tram service was the Mumbles Railway in Swansea, initially horse-drawn but later operated by steam and electric trams. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southwest/sites/swansea/pages/mumbles_trainanniv.shtml Early Days of Mumbles Railway] ]

History

Wales at the turn of the 19th century had one of the world's most developed railway networks due to the massive importance of coal mining and rail was the only viable option of transporting huge amounts of coal to the ports in Cardiff Bay and Newport Docks. In fact the rail junction at Radyr in Cardiff was once the world's busiest with over 300 trains per day making constant deliveries between the Bay and the many mines up the valleys.

Heritage railways

Much of Wales is mountainous, and many primary resources, such as slate or iron ore, were found in these mountains. To the mining and quarrying companies, it made sense to build narrow gauge railways, as they could handle steeper grades and tighter curves, and there were nearby port facilities or existing rail network to link to. As a result, many narrow gauge railways were built. These extended their services to passengers, the Ffestiniog Railway being the first to do so.

Before World War II there was a decline in demand for these resources, and many of these railways were abandoned or demolished. After the war, preservation societies sought to rebuild these railways to their former glory. The first society to do so was the Talyllyn Railway, there are now at least twenty restored railways, both narrow and standard gauge.

Road

outh Wales

Wales has 83 miles (133 kilometres) of motorways, all of which are in the south. The major artery is the M4, which enters Wales via the Second Severn Crossing and terminates at Pont Abraham in Carmarthenshire. The M4 in South Wales has 27 junctions and is an important route between the main urban areas in the region. It links Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, Bridgend, Cardiff and Newport directly to London and the rest of Southern England and indirectly to the Midlands via the A449, A40 and M50.

Following construction of the new crossing the original motorway bridge, which crosses the river further upstream at Chepstow, was re-numbered the M48 motorway. Upon entering Wales via either motorway it is necessary to pay a toll - currently £5.30 for cars as of 2008. The A48(M) is a small spur from the M4 from West Newport to East Cardiff.

An additional motorway of 15 miles length is planned to bypass a congested section of the M4 around Newport, where much of the highway is substandard and difficult to widen further. [http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/transport/roads/NewRoads2/M4/?lang=en] It is uncertain whether the New M4 south of the city will to be tolled.

The second major road is the A470 dual carriageway that connects Cardiff with the South Wales Valleys towns and is one of the busiest A-roads in the UK.Fact|date=February 2008 It suffers from severe congestion especially during peak hours due to significant in-commuting to the Cardiff area.

The A465 "Heads of the Valleys" road, currently being upgraded to dual carriageway, provides a link between the M4 near Neath across the Heads of the Valleys to Abergavenny, Monmouth and the English Midlands via the A40 and M50.

North Wales

The main arteries for North Wales are A494, running from Queensferry (near the English border) to Dolgellau. The road begins from the M56 motorway, connecting North Wales with Chester and Manchester Airport, both in England. More importantly the A55, which runs from Holyhead (for ferry connections to Ireland), Conwy, Llandudno Junction and Rhyl to a junction with the M53 motorway near Chester.

One of the oldest roads the A5 runs from the port of Holyhead south east to Bangor then down through Snowdonia to Betws-y-Coed, Corwen, Llangollen and over the English border south of Chirk. This route has served as the main passage for London-Dublin traffic for many years although its usage has been superseded by the A55 coast road. It's now more famed as a scenic route and notorious for many Bank Holiday traffic jams.

North–South

Two routes serve as the main North-South links. The A483 begins near Swansea and takes a north-easterly route to Ammanford, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llanwrtyd Wells, Builth Wells, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown, Welshpool and Wrexham, finally ending at Chester.

The A470 begins in Cardiff Bay and passes through Cardiff following a north-north western route on to Pontypridd, Abercynon, Merthyr Tydfil, Brecon, Builth Wells, Rhayader, Llangurig, Llanidloes, Llandinam, Commins Coch, Mallwyd, Trawsfynydd, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Dolwyddelan, Betws-y-Coed and terminates at Llandudno. It is a dual carriageway between Cardiff and Merthyr (where it meets the Heads of the Valleys Road, the A465), and the section of this route into Cardiff is heavily used.

Bus and coach network

Wales has an extensive bus system, and buses provide the backbone of the public transport system in the major cities. In Cardiff and Newport the council-owned Cardiff Bus and Newport Transport respectively operate the vast majority of local services, and are two of the few remaining municipally owned bus companies following deregulation in the 1980s. Other major operators in the South Wales area include Stagecoach, which provides services on a number of routes to the South Wales Valleys, and a low-cost coach service from Cardiff to London as part of its Megabus brand.

Other bus companies throughout Wales include First Cymru, Veolia Transport and Arriva North West and Wales.

National Express offers services from major towns in North Wales to Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London. From South Wales, there are direct services from Cardiff and Newport to Bristol, Birmingham, London, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Swansea and Bridgend are also served by National Express services to London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London and Birmingham.

TrawsCambria is sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government and offers 5 intra-Wales routes which are:- Bangor to Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth to Cardiff via Aberaeron, Lampeter and Carmarthen, Aberystwyth to Cardigan, Barmouth to Wrexham via Dolgellau, Bala, Llangollen, Newtown to Brecon.

Air

Wales has two airports offering scheduled services. Anglesey Airport has a twice daily scheduled service to Cardiff International Airport with a flight time of around 1 hour. Cardiff International Airport is served by regular scheduled services to cities in the British Isles, Europe and North America, as well as many regular charter services. Caernarfon Airport also runs private charter flights.

Ports

Wales has several ports handling significant tonnages or passenger volumes: Milford Haven, Port Talbot, Holyhead, Fishguard, Pembroke Dock, Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. Milford Haven specialises in oil and gas products and fishing; Port Talbot in ores and scrap; Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock in passenger (and car) traffic to and from Ireland. Holyhead is also an important point of shipment for Roll-on/roll-off traffic. Barry has a port that supports its area's chemicals industry and handles containers. Port facilities at Cardiff are still in operation but have declined in relative usage during recent years. [ [http://new.wales.gov.uk/docrepos/40382/4038231141/403821125/403821125/555822/WTS_(English)_2.pdf?lang=en Welsh Transport Strategy - Connecting Wales] ]

A waterbus runs along the River Taff in Cardiff connecting the city centre with Cardiff Bay and Penarth.

References

See also

*List of railway stations in Wales
*Transport in the United Kingdom

External links

* [http://www.traveline-cymru.org.uk/ Traveline Cymru]


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