Mid Wales Line

Mid Wales Line
Mid Wales Line (1864-1963)
Continuation backward
Welsh Marches Line
Continuation to left Junction from right
Shrewsbury to Chester Line
Station on track
Bridge over water
River Severn
Unknown BSicon "ABZld" Continuation to right
Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Line
Straight track
(Severn Bridge Junction)
Junction to left Continuation to right
Welsh Marches Line
Small bridge
Unrestricted border on track
Border between England and Wales
Station on track
Station on track
Track turning from left Unknown BSicon "xABZgr+xr"
Moat Lane Junction
Station on track Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE"
Continuation to left Junction to right Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE"
Cambrian Line to Pwllheli
End station Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "exABZrf"
Penbontbren Junction
Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
(Manchester and Milford Railway)
Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
Start of the Mid Wales line proper
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
St Harmon
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Marteg Halt
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Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Newbridge on Wye
Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
Unknown BSicon "exSTRrg" Unknown BSicon "exABZrf"
Continuation to left Unknown BSicon "eABZ3rf" Unknown BSicon "xTBHFu" Continuation to right
Builth Road
Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
for Heart of Wales Line
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Builth Wells
Unknown BSicon "exHST"
Llanfaredd Halt
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exHST"
Llanstephan Halt
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exCONTg"
to Hereford
Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE" Unknown BSicon "exABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exCONTl"
Golden Valley Line to Pontrilas
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exABZrg" Unknown BSicon "exSTRrf"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Three Cocks Junction
Unknown BSicon "exABZld" Unknown BSicon "exSTRlg"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF" Unknown BSicon "exTUNNELa"
Talyllyn Junction
Unknown BSicon "exTUNNEL1" Unknown BSicon "exTUNNELe"
Unknown BSicon "exBHF" Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE"
Brecon (Joint Station)
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE"
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Talybont-on Usk
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "exBHF"
Merthyr Tydfil
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "xABZrg" Continuation to right
South Wales Main Line
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Station on track
Cardiff Central
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Track turning left Continuation to right
South Wales Main Line
Unknown BSicon "exABZlf" Unknown BSicon "exSTRlg"
Unknown BSicon "exLUECKE" Unknown BSicon "exSTR"
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Unknown BSicon "xENDEa"
Onllwyn railhead
Unknown BSicon "exCONTr" Unknown BSicon "exABZlg" Junction from left Continuation to right
South Wales Main Line
Unknown BSicon "exSTR" Station on track
Unknown BSicon "xABZrg" Track turning right
Station on track
Continuation forward
West Wales Line

The Mid Wales Line was a standard gauge railway line that opened in 1864 as a North-South route serving central Welsh towns including Llanidloes, Rhayader, Builth Wells and Brecon. There were over 20 intermediate stations on this rural line, many minor, given the very sparse local populations

The railway met with what is now termed the 'Cambrian Line' at the north end, at Moat Lane Junction between Caersws and Newtown, and connected to the complex South Wales network in several places. Though a long route, it served to link several quite significant rural centres and the key regional towns.

It should not be confused with the scenic Central Wales Line, now marketed as the Heart of Wales Line , which it crossed approximately half-way along its length at Builth Road, nor with the Cambrian Line from Shrewsbury to Machynlleth. Both of these lines undeniably run at least partially through 'mid Wales' and both remain open.

Unlike the Mid Wales line, the railway routes which remain open in Wales primarily serve to connect Welsh communities with England, and so the North, Mid, and South Wales rail networks all remain distinct entities, which makes some journeys difficult.



The Mid Wales route was not an independent railway, but was a network of lines created by a number of smaller companies, which created short lines that later interconnected.

  • The Llanidloes and Newtown Railway built the first section, between the towns of its name, and south to Penbontbren Junction, where a signal box remained, controlling double track in spite of the abortive Manchester and Milford Railway scheme that became their Llangurig branch. The L&N also built the expansive Llanidloes station building, the cost borne jointly by the L&N and M&M for many years in spite of the latter never being able to reach it.
  • The Mid-Wales Railway built and owned the entire section from Penbontbren Junction to Talyllyn Junction.
  • The Brecon and Merthyr Railway built the heavily-engineered section south from Brecon, via Talyllyn Tunnel, Talyllyn Junction, the Beacons Tunnel, and Pontsticill, opening in 1863, ultimately to Newport Docks. Beyond Pontsticill and Pant, the entire Valleys rail network was accessible.
  • The Neath and Brecon Railway constructed the primary western route to Brecon, enabling access to and from Neath Docks.
  • The Swansea Vale Railway built a link to the Neath and Brecon line at Coelbren providing another, more direct, route to Swansea, although this lost its passenger service in the 1930s.

At Brecon, following the initial opening of three separate stations, a joint station was created at Free Street. At Llanidloes, a joint station was created in anticipation of M&MR traffic which never materialised, since the Mid Wales Railway never completed their section of the Llangurig - Strata Florida - Aberystwyth line.

The 'Welsh Railways Through Traffic Act' of 1889 went some way to formalising an arrangement whereby the Mid Wales Line would form part of a through route from South Wales to Cheshire, as an alternative to the main line route via Hereford and Shrewsbury. The links necessary to complete this route included a new line from Ellesmere on the Cambrian main line to Wrexham, and certain lines on the Wirral. These links were not complete until 1896. In practice the route never received substantial use, and that almost entirely for goods traffic. An exception occurred during WWI when through passenger trains over the Mid-Wales Railway were withdrawn to provide the maximum number of traffic paths for coal trains from South Wales travelling north to Scapa Flow to fuel the Fleet. These trains, running day and night, were dubbed the 'Jellicoe Specials' after the Admiral of the Fleet.[1]

The entire Mid-Wales network closed in the early 1960s, with the exception of freight south of Onllwyn and north of Llanidloes, and the separate Heart of Wales route. The Hay-on-Wye route also closed.


One enthusiast-run railway uses part of the southern route: The narrow-gauge Brecon Mountain Railway run their American-themed locomotives on part of the former Brecon and Merthyr Railway section of the line from Pant towards Tonpantau. The now defunct Swansea Vale Railway tried to preserve about 2 miles of the Swansea-Brecon section near Swansea.

As a result of the UK planning laws, former railway sites are "brownfield" and therefore targets for development. In several places the former station sites have been built on for industrial use, as is popular elsewhere on former goods yards. Two long stretches have been used for by-passes; around Builth Wells and Llanidloes, which is unusual in that the by-pass runs directly through the town on the old railway, re-using its bridges to take traffic past the urban road network without interference.

The condition of the route today can be assessed using aerial photography. Some of the main features have been highlighted here.


  1. ^ R W Kidner (2003). The Mid-Wales Railway. The Oakwood Press. 

External links

See also

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