Cardiff Valley Lines bash

Discussion in 'Trip Planning & Reports' started by anthony263, 9 Nov 2011.

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  1. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    This is only the 1st time I have written up a report on my day out bashing last time I did was over 2 years ago.


    I started my day by getting up at 05:15, making myway downstairs for a shower, after which I decided to make myself some breakfast and a cup of coffee before watching Sky News.

    After making sure that my camera batteries had some charge in them and packing my rucksack with a bottle of coca cola and 2 packets of walker cheese & onion crisps I set off leaving my parents house at 07:25.

    I called in my local spar shop where i purchased a large breakfast roll for £1.20 (lovely) for a treat as I haven't had 1 from here since I finished University earlier this year.

    I got passed by 1 of the Optare Solo's which First cymru recieved from their devon operations as a result of being awarded the contract for service 45/46 Bridgend - Heol Y Cyw - Pencoed - Llanharren - Talbot Green - Royal Glamorgan Hospital which Veolia Transport Cymru withdrew with very little notice.

    Very unusual to see 1 of these working service 63/63B Porthcawl - North Cornelly - Cefn Cribwr - Bridgend, well makes a change to the usual darts particulary those horrible Marshal capital bodied darts that ave arrived from First Bristol and Slough.

    Got passed by former Reading buses, MCW Metrobus E456 SON now with GM Coaches, on its way to work a school service to Porthcawl.

    Anyways I eventually arrived into Pyle station at 07:50 shortly after a 175 had departed with the 07:45 departure to Cardiff Central. I got passed by a hst on its way to London Paddington at 07:55 before I get caught out as a Freightliner class 70 rolls passed at 08:05 heading towards Neath (I did get a shot of it on my phone as I had no warning that it was coming so couldnt get my camera out.)

    Eventually 175105 pulls into the station at exactly 08:09 with a service to Manchester Piccadilly which I shall travel on to Bridgend. Shortly after departure I can feel 1751005 really power away as it starts the climb up stormy bank with the train eventually arriving into Bridgend at 08:16/08:17 as very quick run especially since the class 153's really struggle to keep to the timings on journeys between Pyle & Bridgend.

    After making my way to the tickets barriers where I purchased a anytime return from Pyle to Bridgend for £3.10 as the conduter couldnt get through the train because of overcrowding. I then decided to have a wander down to the rhiw shopping centre to go to WH Smith to purchase a copy of the latest issue of Rail. After I bought that I decided to have a wonder along the new elevated walkway with runs along the river through Bridgend town centre and is worths a walk over especially at night where it is all lit up, I got to Bridgend Bus Station at 08:35 where I did a bit of bus photography with a few waves from drivers who know me.

    I got back to Bridgend railway station at 09:05 where I purchased a valley lines day explorer ticket for £9.10 sadly you can no longer get any railcard discounts on this ticket. I then made my way over to platform 2.

    Bridgend station is currently going through a major facelift including the installation of a new footbridge complete with lifts which will be installed at the Swansea end of teh station, work seems to be coming along well however the contracters have used a large part of the car park for the offices and to store equipments etc (Might be something to do why the station car parks at Pyle were so busy)

    While sitting at Bridgend station I saw:

    43127 & 43168 working the 09:10 departure to Swansea which was running about 3 minutes late, shortly after at about 09:16 a class 66 & 60049 rolled through with a empty steel slab train to Margam. Eventually 175106 rolled into the station at 09:24 with the train to Carmarthen and 175108 pulling in with the 09:25 departure to Manchester Piccadilly (I really do think all the trains need to be 3 or 4 carriages on this route s at least from Carmarthen as both trains were extrmely busy the Manchester especially.)

    At 09:28 153312 rolls through empty heading towards Cardiff. At 09:35 there is an annoucement that the 09:42 train to Cardiff central via the Vale of glamorgan line was 7 minutes late because of delays leaving Cardiff on the prervious journey as I am waiting I note 150242 working the 09:34 departure to Swansea which calls at all the Swanline service and which was fairly busy. At 09:40 158837 rolls in with the 09:38 service to Cheltenham Spa which is 2 minutes late this is only my 2nd trip on 1 of the newly refurbished class 158's the other being back on 19th june this year.

    As we are leaving Bridgend I see 2 class 150's rolling into platform 1A on arrival back at Cardiff Central these 2 class 150's will split with 1 working a Treherbert service which runs via the cityline instead of via Cardiff Queen Street and the other will work the 10:54 Cardiff - Fishguard Hbr service. I must say I like the new interiors on these units although I think the lighting is a bit too bright and does give you a headache after a bit. After arrival at Cardiff central I met up with 1 of my freinds before we proceded to platform 0 to get the 10:35 service to Ebbw Vale Parkway ( 1st time my rover has worked in the barriers)

    150229 was our unit today and the unit actually was very quiet with our carriage empty apart from us and the good looking french girl sitting a few seats down who was having a very loud coversation in french much to our amusement. After a very good sprint along the south wales mainline and as we passed Alexander dock Junction I make a not of 66146 & 66092 sitting in the yard, I must also say the Ebbw Vale trains really have to slow down to cross off the mainline onto the Ebbw Vale branch.

    I must make a complaint about the poor tables on this unit which I felt were 2 small. We arrived into Ebbw Vale Parkway at 11:28 about 3 minutes early so I and my freind decided to go for a bit of a walk, we manged to get onto the footbridge which crosses over the line and I must admit I didnt expect the track to continue for a long as it did beyond the station to where it passes under the main road heading towards where the steelworks were and where trains will eventually continue to Ebbw Vale town centre.

    After boarding the train back down to Cardiff we pass the old Junction for the Abertillery, branch where the trackbed seems to still be in place and clear. Someday I hope to perhaps see trains working down this branch again.

    As we travel along the branch the train does start to fill up and we pass 150282 which is working the 11:35 Cardiff - Ebbw Vale parkway service. Arrival back into Cardiff Central was at 12:30 a good 5 minutes early. After this we decided to head to weatherspoons for lunch where we got a meal consisting of burger, chips and a drink for £3.99 which was lovely and makes a change from Burger King/Mc Donalds.

    A trip to the Ian Allan shop was in order where we had a browse throug some of the books & magazines. We got back to central station at 13:45 where they are building anew booking office so the temporary booking office is now located next to the information desk. My ticket decided to not work in the barriers this time and I had to be let through by a member of staff. I decided to plan our next move when we saw 175002 working the 14:05 departure to Manchester Piccadilly which was very overcrowded including a lot of passengers standing. ( just goes to show how popular this route is.)

    I did make a not that a few clas the class 142/143's have had a fresh coat of paint. I make a note of 158961 working the 14:30 service to Portsmouth Harbour, another route which I think should be worked by 4 carriage trains.

    I still think that it was a shame the government cancelled the order of 11
    new 4 carriage dmu's for this route as those 158's could have been re-formed back into 2 carriage sets and used on the Great Malvern - Weymouth & Cardiff - Bristol - Taunton routes to provide extra cpacity and services on those routes with 1 or 2 going to ATW to provide extra capacity on the Cambrian.

    I made a not of the following while I was at Cardiff Central:

    66206 working light engine heading towards Newport.
    66161 working a steel train to Margam (We later passed this at Leckwith)
    Freightliner 66619 seen parked up in the Riverside siding.
    150247 with the 14:15 arrival from Taunton & Bristol Temple Meads.

    142080 & 143607 working the 14:16 departure to Penarth.
    143601 working the 14:20 departure to Coryton

    Also made a note. of Loadhall liveried 50135 siting outside Pulmans rails depot at Canton



    We decided to get 158821, which is another unit which has just been refurbished on the 14:20 service to Maesteg. Departure was ontime although teh train was very usy with not many spare seats, I overheard 1 woman saying that this was a brand new train, just goes to show that a good refurbishment can catch people out. We arrive into Pontyclun which is looking sorry for itself, mostly thanks to the local youth, I wouldnt mind seeing the branch line from Pontyclun to Beddau re-opened it would make a good light rail route.

    we eventaually arrive into Maesteg at 15:13 about 2 minutes late and we see the railink liveried opatre solo which is operated by Lynfi coaches on service 904 to Caerau Park. Bridgend council have decided to withdraw the railink service from next January however some of the money saved will instead be used to fund inprovements to service 32/36 Cymmer - Maesteg - Llangynwydd - Bridgend with most journeys serving Maesteg railway station to connect with train services. rail tickets will also now be accepted on this route.

    Most of the trains are timed to depart at exactly 15 minutes past the hour apart from this 1 which departs at 15:17, however the train was full with schoolchildren traveling to Garth. While on the way to Bridgend I get a phonecall fromy father saying that my brother needs a lift to his girlfreinds in Port Talbot and my mother who was still sick wasnt able to take him, so this totally screwed up the rest of my plan for the day as I had planned to get a train up to Rhymney then Treherbert befoire getting back to Cardiff Central where I planned to do a bit of night photography (Something I haven't really done at Cardiff cenral for 2-3 years)

    So in the end I decided to bail at Bridgend nad get the 16:24 Milford Haven train to Pyle before walking home where I arrived at 16:57 after calling into the spar shop (I decided to make my brother wait as I was in a bad mood as a result of having to abort my planned dayout and which cost me a good bit of money.)

    So That was my dayout which sadly didnt exactly go to plan as I had planned a much longer dayout.

    I also noticed as well that a class 153 was being used on the Cardiff bay branch today.

    I am planning another dayout soon, perhaps to London where I hope to get a bash on some class 319's and find out why a number of people like them so much and perhaps the last of the A stock on the MET.
     

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  3. 142094

    142094 Established Member

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    Valley lines are ne of the few bits I haven't got round to doing yet - is it easy enough to cover them all in a day or two? Was thinking of staying over in Cardiff one night and getting them all in at a leisurely pace.
     
  4. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    You could do it all in a day, howeverthe valley lines day explorer ticket is valid on bus services operated by Stagecoach (Print off details of the ticket
    or get a leaflet as I have had problems with 1 or 2 drivers)

    If you do do 1 bus route service 172 Aberdare - Tonypandy - Bridgend - Porthcawl is brilliant especially the routes between Aberdare and Tonypandy which has a lot of very steep hills which is great for thrash on the volvo
    b10m's :D

    In terms of scenery the best lines are:

    Treherbert
    Merthyr Tydfil (North of abercynnon)
    Ebbw Vale branch
    Vale of glamorgan


    The day rover is also supposed to be valid on FGW services between Bridgend & Cardiff Central (although I suggest double checking)

    The use of the class 121 on the Cardiff Bay line can be a bit hit and miss and I wouldnt reconmend stopping to take photos at any of the stations on the cityline between Cardiff Central & Radyr.

    You may also be lucky to see the coal trains going up to Cwmbargoed
     
  5. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I've used the Valleys Day ticket a couple of times on buses between Aberdare and Merthyr and had no problems. That might be because the route has rail stations at both ends.

    It's a nice litte network that can easily be done in a lesiurely manner over two days. The scenery is now a lot better that people might think!
     
  6. Madge Wildfire

    Madge Wildfire Member

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    Please forgive my ignorance, but is there no passenger service between Ebbw Vale and Newport?
     
  7. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    At the moment however there is the new railink bus service between Rogerstone & Newport railway stations which runs direct instead of the long way round it did before it was withdrawn (I am not sure of the exact date the new railink service is starting if it isnt running now however)

    I am not sure if the valley lines day explorer ticket would be valid between Rogerstone & Newport at the moment however when the railink is restored I personally think it should be made valid to Newport
     
  8. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    That it should, and how long we will have to wait for the curve to open to passenger trains is anyone's guess. Wasn't it supposed to be open last year? As for the RailLink bus, didn't know why it was withdrawn but it going a long way around is probably why no-one used it. I might try it next time I go down that way for a 150/2 fix and some station gricing.

    Valley Lines, definitely do-able at a sensible pace over two days. By sensible I mean things like stopping for a reasonable meal break for lunch and tea/dinner, things like that. You probably could do it all in one day, but that would mean either buying a lot of expensive Anytime tickets/ doing it on an ALR to get around time restrictions or doing it on a Saturday, what with the time restrictions Monday to Friday. I seem to vaguely remember doing it all in one day was possible when I looked a few years ago, but now Ebbw Vale Parkway is there use of connecting buses would probably be vital now.

    Not done the Valleys in years, need to return to do the new loop on the Merthyr line and see what Abercynon looks like now since they combined North and South. Quite, I need to try and find 150235 and 150253 for haulage too which would finally finish the massive ATW fleet for haulage :)

    Sounds like you had a good day, aside from having to finish it prematurely. Hopefully your next trip will be a good 'un to make up for it, and when you do it hopefully you enjoy the 319s too. I'm sure heart-of-wessex will welcome you to the club of 319 enthusiasts, he might even have a membership form for you ;):lol:
     
  9. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Thanks

    As for the Ebbw Vale railink bus yes It was hardly used at all because of the long route it took.

    The Maesteg - Blaencaerau railink bus is being withdrawn from 10th january however tickets will be valid on local bus services 32/36 to Caerau and up to Cymmer & Glyncorrwg with most journeys being re-timed to call additionally at Maesteg railway station.

    I may try and do another valley lines dayrover sometime soon before the stagecoach Volvo B10M's are withdrawn after being replaced by low floor scannia's (That said with stagecoach wales loosing a lot of buses for the olympics I wouldn't be surprised if some do get put back into service along with some Mercs.)



    A problem I have at the moment is very limited funds and I want to go down to Fishgaurd & Goodwick when the new station opens at the start of 2012.


    As for class 319 bashing I wouldnt mind, the problem is again the cost of getting up to London. Looks like I could do an overnight trip by catching the 21:00 train from Bridgend which gets to London for around 23:40 as I can get a single on that train for £7.90 with my railcard if I book far enough in advance or its meggbus/national express.

    I am tempted to wait til early january as Megabus will be having some new double deck coaches which i want a trip on.

    I have been thinking with the GWML being electrified could I end up seing some class 319's being used between Swansea/Cardiff - Bristol in a few years time.
     
  10. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    It's tough to say what will happen for sure regarding GWML electrification, obviously it's a long way off completion! That ticket's a good price on that train to London, got to be worth a go.

    As for Fishguard and Goodwick, when's that projected to open? First I've heard of any serious suggestion of it re-opening, let alone actually happening soon! Haven't been that way for years, will be a good excuse to do an All Wales next year then!
     
  11. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    There is disruption on the fishguard branch this week as network rail re-align the track with the platform at Fishguard & Goodwick

    Some work is already starting on the platform as the old station building has been demolished. The station should be opened in early 2012 if the work which is going great so far continues.

    New paving slabs etc are being put on thep latform where needed however most of the work seems to be re-aligning the track and clearing the station up. The council are getting the car park sorted as well and the bus stop for the local fishgaurd town bus service as well as others.



    It is hoped that passenger numbers will increase further when the new additional station is opened. especially when there will be free parking and there is already room in the timetable for trains to stop at Goodwick station.

    I suggest anyone interested take a look at this site which has lots of news & information :

    http://fishguardtrains.info/
     
  12. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    Yes, you can do Cardiff - Merthyr Tydfil, Merthyr Tydfil - Bridgend, Bridgend - Aberdare, Aberdare - Barry Island, Barry Island - Cardiff Central, Cardiff Central - Penarth, Penarth - Rhymney, Rhymney - Cardiff Queen Street, Cardiff Queen Street - Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Bay - Cardiff Queen Street. Cardiff Queen Street - Treherbert, Treherbert - Radyr, Radyr - Coryton via the City Line and then finally Coryton to Cardiff Central.

    Would take you around 12 hours mind :P I recommend doing Rhondda one day and Vale of Glamorgan another day :P
     
  13. deltic

    deltic Established Member

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    Is there a record time for doing the whole valley network? Could be a good competition to equal the London Underground competitions!
     
  14. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    Dont know, I never really bothered checking to see if there was.

    It would be interesting to know though
     
  15. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Don't forget Maesteg and Ebbw Vale are counted as part of the Valley Lines too, so could be very difficult to do in one day!
     
  16. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    See I was gonna mention those, but considering the Maesteg service comes fro Cheltenham (and one from Holyhead) I personally can't classify that as a Valley Line. That effectively means Bridgend is on the Valley Lines, and you could take a HST, so a HST or 175 on the Valley Lines!
     
  17. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Don't forget that, from memory at least, FGW travel isn't included on the Valley Lines Explorer.
     
  18. anthony263

    anthony263 Established Member

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    They used to be valid on FGW between Bridgend and Cardiff central a year or so ago as I have a leaflet saying so which I lost., This was before they increased the price and withdrew the railcard discount
     
  19. Lrd

    Lrd Established Member

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    I went on one the other day, according to NRE, it is only valid on ATW, not XC or FGW. :(
     
  20. Techniquest

    Techniquest Veteran Member

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    Wasn't a railcard discount when I did them in 2005 either, strange that they allowed it for a while then took it away again :|
     
  21. 12CSVT

    12CSVT Established Member

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    Would it not save time if you went Cardiff - via Llandaf -Treherbert - Pontypridd - Merthyr Tydfil - Abercynon - Aberdare - Radyr - then via City Line back to Cardiff to avoid lengthy doubling back ?
     
  22. DanTrainMan185

    DanTrainMan185 Established Member

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    You could but you'd need to ensure that the train times coincide with each other, and if you went from Aberdare to Radyr you'd miss the City Line by a fraction of a second and would have to wait for ages!
     
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