Supplement to e-BLN 1266 BLN Pictorial 8 October 2016
South Wales is the destination for this issue of BLN Pictorial. Once again our thanks go to Nick Jones for a set of his pictures; this time featuring the
Cwmbargoed (sometimes Cwm Bargoed, but the owners call it Cwmbargoed) branch, a freight only branch some 7 miles long from its junction with the
Rhymney line at Ystrad Mynach. At Cwmbargoed the huge (and hugely controversial) Ffos-y-Fran opencast mine continues to provide traffic, mainly to
Aberthaw Power Station but also to destinations such as Earle's Cement and the steelworks at Margam, Port Talbot. Nick's take on this is interesting, as he
has in effect recorded the whole cycle of one train's visit from arrival through loading, run round and departure - an approach which we haven't used
before. To round the issue off there are some images of other points down the branch, originally a joint GWR-Rhymney Railway line.
There's no map this time as there are only a very small number of locations - but if you'd like to get the area into perspective, here are some links which
you might find interesting :
Google Maps page showing the Cwmbargoed opencast disposal point, where Nick's photos were taken : https://goo.gl/KPd0TQ
Aerial view of Cwmbargoed : https://goo.gl/pNG3rW
Google maps page showing the course of the branch as far as Nelson & Llancaiach : https://goo.gl/am6V8X
Aerial view of the branch : https://goo.gl/gUCStW
Ordnance Survey 6" map of the Cwm Bargoed (for so the station is named) and Merthyr Tydfil area in 1898-99 : https://goo.gl/vsZrIY
Ordnance Survey 1:25000 map of the same area in 1938 : https://goo.gl/B9fcm9
All of the maps and views are scalable so you can enlarge them and move around to look at adjoining areas.
As usual, clicking on the number to the left of each caption will take you to the photo, and clicking at the bottom left hand corner of the photo will return
you to the captions. All the photographs are Nick Jones's except where otherwise attributed.
4. Since closure of Ystrad Mynach signal box in 2013, the Cwmbargoed branch is worked by Tokenless Block, under control of the South Wales Control
Centre (SWCC) at Cardiff. Once the train arrives in the run-round loop at Cwmbargoed and the Shunter has seen the tail lamp, the Shunter presses
'Train Arrived Complete' which resets the Tokenless Block system to 'Normal'. The shunter has a radio to inform the disposal point staff of the train's
arrival and get permission to continue to the loading point. .
5. The empty train arriving at the Network Rail boundary.
6. Talking to the SWCC following arrival at Cwmbargoed.
7. The empty wagons are propelled into the disposal point for loading.
8. The loaders are similar in principle to the diggers you can see on any construction site - just bigger! Washed coal is loaded into the top of the hopper
wagon; although a skilled job, it's not a particularly exact science and some spillage occurs as can be seen here beside the wagon which is currently
9. A short 'cripple' siding is provided just west of the loading pad, where any wagons requiring fitters' attention can be stabled and taken back on a
later working. The train has moved forward a wagon-length to put the next empty wagon next to the loader.
10. Loading in full swing, with a second loader now operating to speed the process up.
11. With the train now fully loaded, 66016 brings it out of the disposal point into the loop where the loco can run round.
12. The 66 runs round the train prior to departure.
13. More skilled work as the 66 edges up to its train. The shunter is no longer on the scene (he left as the empty train propelled into the loader earlier
on, and did not return with the loaded train). The driver is now working completely alone, having to get in and out of the cab all the time to deal with
uncoupling, coupling, changing points etc.
14. The loaded train is waiting for another train of empties to arrive before it is can be given permission to leave for Margam.
15. In his final picture, Nick has moved back some distance to give us a panoramic view of the site, with coal visible in the loaded train and the end of the
line (which used to continue north-west to Dowlais Cae Harris) marked by buffers in the right foreground.
16. The Real Time Trains page for this particular train.
17. Triple headed 37s and old style hopper wagons on the branch nearly 20 years ago - 37702, 37897 and 37899 on 20 June 1997. The location is given
as Cwmbargoed, but the surroundings suggest that it must be further down the branch. (By Phil Sangwell (37702,37897,37899 Cwmbargoed) [CC BY
2.0], via Wikimedia Commons)
18. Left : The remains of Bedlinog station, looking north west towards towards Cwm Bargoed and Dowlais on 14 July 1966. (Ben Brooksbank [CC BY 2.0],
via Wikimedia Commons)
Right : UK Railtours Thames-Taff Railtour at Trelewis on 22 May 2011, with 66020 leading and 66188 at the rear. The train is heading south from
Cwmbargoed on its way back to Paddington, having previously visited Machen Quarry. (© Copyright Gareth James and licensed for reuse under
this Creative Commons Licence)
19. Another view of Bedlinog, this time with the Thames-Taff Railtour. (© Copyright Gareth James and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons
20. Cwmbargoed does lend itself well to a panorama! Here the Thames-Taff railtour has just arrived, with 66188 leading. (© Copyright Gareth
James and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)
Below : The RCH Junction Diagram, 1914, showing the complex of lines in the Dowlais and Merthyr areas. Cwmbargoed (then Cwm Bargoed) is near the
lower right corner of the diagram. (By Railway Clearing House (Railway Junction Diagram) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)