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The South Wales Division was one of the three operating divisions of the Western Region. The division included the South Wales Main Line from Severn Tunnel Junction to Fishguard Harbour, as well as numerous branches in the Valleys and West Wales. The division also controlled the Central Wales Line and the North and West route via Hereford as far as the regional border at Craven Arms. The South Wales Main Line was very busy, particularly the four-track section between Severn Tunnel Junction and Cardiff, and saw InterCity HSTs and loco-hauled services to Cardiff and Swansea. DMUs were used on local services in the Cardiff Valleys and in West Wales. Freight traffic was very important on the division. Steel traffic moved between the various BSC works, and petroleum trains were dispatched from refineries at Milford Haven. Meanwhile, coal was forwarded from numerous collieries, many on branches that were still controlled by semaphore signalling. This book contains an evocative selection of images from the railways of South Wales.
The West of England Division stretched from Penzance in the west to Blackwell Summit at the top of the Lickey Incline to the north of Bromsgrove. Geographically it was the largest of the three operating divisions of the Western Region, and in many ways the most varied. Bristol was the headquarters, and the hub of the division, with a complex network of local lines and a major locomotive depot at Bath Road. There were InterCity services to London Paddington and on the Cross Country route to the West Country. By contrast, some of the DMU-worked branch lines in Devon and Cornwall were much more rural in nature. Summer Saturdays saw a large number of extra trains head west along the sea wall at Dawlish. Freight traffic, though generally in decline, included china clay from the west and stone from the Mendips, as well as the new Speedlink services. This book contains a selection of images from across this part of the country.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the Western Region was undergoing change in both trains and equipment. On passenger services High Speed Trains worked alongside loco-hauled passenger trains and first generation DMUs, while in the world of freight the last of the traditional vacuum-braked wagon load trains lingered into the 1980s to be replaced by the newly introduced Speedlink services. Semaphore signals were being replaced in Devon by new colour light signals. There was also a contrast between the three divisions, with each having its own character. The London Division was busy with express and commuter traffic to and from Paddington and inter-regional freight traffic. The South Wales Division witnessed a procession of freight trains through Cardiff and Newport while DMUs and coal trains headed up and down the Valleys. The West of England Division experienced heavy aggregate trains from the Mendip quarries, sleepy West Country branch lines and the intensive timetable of summer Saturday trains full of holidaymakers. With a wealth of rare and previously unpublished images, Kevin Redwood documents this fascinating period in Britain's railway history.