Mid-afternoon - and plenty of passengers expecting trains at Chester station.
Wheels: ChCa. If you're on wheels, see our Easy Access page for explanation. Ch is towards Chester, Ca is towards Cardiff.
A full list of routes covered is at the bottom of this page.
is (sadly) an architectural mess. Its italianate frontage of 1848 is excellent, and its overbridge staircases are obviously of the same wonderful heritage. But a lot of re-roofing and replacement of canopies has taken place in an ugly mix of styles that collectively made us wince, and the mid-track shrubbery doesn't help.
Chester scores better in other respects, though. The station is just north east of the city ring road, and easy to find once you pick up the signing. It is easy-access, with a modern ticket office (short on staff when we passed), a newsagents, hot food and coffee areas, waiting rooms, lifts, plenty of overhead shelter, and video train information. One query, though: why is there no seating at all under all the canopy space at the east end of the station? Platform numbering is sensible, with longer platforms given 'a' and 'b' suffixes to allow two trains to share them. Note that the bay platform next to platform 1 is used but not numbered, and may therefore not be for passenger use. Outside the door is short term parking and a taxi rank, and short term parking is also allowed in City Road. Finally, the station's east car park is through a gateway promising "Carriages & Post-Horses for Hire". You have to love it! Wheels: ChCa
Chester also serves the Chester-Llandudno line. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
WREXHAM CENTRAL (Wrecsam Canolog in Welsh) is one of the smallest town stations we've ever visited. It sits in one corner of the modern shopping centre, approached by Pentre Felin, and comprises a large, fully enclosed waiting room and a platform for a 2-coach shuttle train. A 2-minute journey will get you to platform 4 at Wrexham General, where the world becomes your oyster.
Pay-and-display parking is available in the shopping centre car park. Wheels: ChCa.
CHIRK station is about 400 yards east of the town centre, on the road to Chirk castle (Station Avenue), and is adequately signed to get you there. If you go right at the mini-roundabout, the road will take you down to a free car park with roughly 30 spaces, and there is a direct access from there to the Shrewsbury platform. Both sides have stone-build shelters with wooden seats for about 10, plus standing room, and the shelters have small canopies outside. The overbridge is hard up against the road bridge, with an access from the road close to the mini-roundabout. If there was a footboard crossing we missed it, and there is certainly no other means of wheelchair access to the Chester platform. Wheels: ChCa.
GOBOWEN (for OSWESTRY)
Behind the station is a pay-and-display parking area, though you have to drive round and under the station, then up Howard Street to reach it. Once on foot, there is a level, roofed overbridge (by a sign that says The Dana) that will take you directly to the station building - the quick way down involves 35 steps, but staying on the sloping path gives wheelchairs (etc.) a longer-winded but easier route. Wheels: ChCa.
Shrewsbury also serves the Wolverhampton-Shrewsbury line, and some trains from Chester turn along that line, calling at Wellington, Telford Central, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham New Street. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
CHURCH STRETTON station is at the bottom of the central shopping street, down to the right side of the overbridge (the old station was to the left but is now private property). This is the Shrewsbury platform; the Hereford platform is reached either by a modern steel overbridge, or by road from the A49 Church Stretton by-pass along Crossways. Entrances to both platforms are close to the overbridge, bench seats are at the foot of the bridge, and there is a modern stone open-fronted shelter on each platform, but no ticket office. There is parking for about a dozen cars. Wheels: ChCa.
CRAVEN ARMS station lies north of the centre of Craven Arms, just off the A49 Shrewsbury Road, on the west side. Facilities are basic: two shelters and an overbridge with no apparent alternative for the wheel-borne. There is no ticket office, but parking is provided for about 30 cars. Wheels: ChCa.
Craven Arms is the junction point for this line and the Shrewsbury Llandrindod line.
LUDLOW station lies near a supermarket on Station Road, an eastern branch off Corve Street, Ludlow's main north- south street. The line curves against the shoulder of a hill through the station then disappears into a short tunnel at its southern end. The photo shows the tunnel, the open fronted shelter provided on both platforms, the passenger overbridge, and beyond the overbridge, one of the two access ramps. Behind the camera lies a new ticket office, adjacent to a pay and display parking area. The wheelchair route takes you to a road over the tunnel entrance, then down a footpath
on the Hereford side to reach the ramp itself. The footpath is tarmac, and quite manageable with prams, but looks hard work for an unassisted wheelchair. We'd also guess that most prams will get struggled over the passenger bridge instead going round. Wheels: ChCa.
LEOMINSTER is best found by accident. Certainly deliberate seeking may serve you ill. You'll gather we would have liked more signing. It's to the east of the town centre in Worcester Road (use Etnam Street from the centre), and Leominster station is just off the east side of this with just a small amount of forecourt parking. (Worcester Road continues on to a roundabout junction with the A49, which will be an easier access for some. The station itself once had four tracks through it, but some have disappeared, and what was platform 3 is now fenced off. It is still the old station building on platform one, with a decent canopy cover and refreshments available at the time of our visit. Information received in 2012 advised us that lifts had been added for getting between platforms. We don't know exactly how, but logic would attach them to the footbridge as we show here. Toilets, seats, and a new waiting area were also added as part of the same upgrade. Wheels: ChCa.
HEREFORD is a fine example of a traditional station that looks well cared for. It was freshly painted when we were there, with plenty of flowers also in evidence. There are three major platforms plus a bay, with canopied areas for shelter. The main station building includes a ticket office and refreshments, and a passenger overbridge links the platforms. Hereford's main buildings are easy access, and wheelchair users can presumably ask for assistance to cross to the opposite platform via the boarded parcel crossing.
Outside the station, a large level area provides substantial short stay and pay-and-display parking. As you'll gather,
we liked this station. Wheels: ChCa.|
Hereford also serves the Worcester-Hereford line. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
ABERGAVENNY (Y Fenni) station is on the hill out of town,
climbing Monmouth Road (A40) and turning left into Station Road. Almost all parking in the station
vicinity is either banned or pay-and-display, with not a lot available in total. The main station
building is traditional (though rather nondescript) stone, and contains a ticket office. The station
was bigger once, and has lost at least one platform face, but the second platform
still has a proper
building and both sides have canopy shelter. The passenger bridge between the platforms also serves as a
footpath to the A465 major road beyond. There is no lift, but a footboard allows wheeled passengers
across the line with staff help. This station has been proposed for refurbishment. Wheels:
CWMBRAN Our first view at Cwmbran was of a young, slender couple standing in the sunshine by the flowerbed just outside the 1990s station, and we could immediately envisage how the architect had probably sketched it on his drawing board. Itís a simple two-platform station linked by a footbridge. Shelter is provided by a bus shelter on the Cardiff side, and both sides have wrap-over aluminium canopies. Bench seating is set out at intervals, under the canopies and out in the open. The free car park is reached from Somerset Road and has spaces for about 80 cars. It directly adjoins the ticket office building which opens for commuter hours - i.e. early morning until lunchtime. Crossing the line for wheeled users is via the Edlogan Way road overbridge at the south end of the station - longwinded, but practical. Summary: clean, simple and effective - and 5 minutes walk from the shopping centre and bus station. Interestingly, the previous station here was closed for many years. This one was built for the re-opening, and better buildings have already been proposed for it. Wheels: ChCa.
Cwmbran also serves the line through the Severn Tunnel to Bristol Temple Meads. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
NEWPORT (Casnewydd) Newport is the second busiest station in Wales, struggling to cope with rising passenger traffic and being redeveloped to meet demand. It is mainly traditional stone buildings and long canopies for shelter. The main building on platform 1 has a large booking hall/waiting area, and a newsagent/bookshop alongside. Across on platform 2/3 there is a cafť, waiting room and toilets. The platforms are linked by an overbridge that also leads to the main station car park, and there are passenger lifts from the platforms to the bridge. At the far side of the station is platform 4. This appeared to be defunct for passenger services and therefore inaccessible in 2005, but that situation may have changed. Since our visit a new space-age (style and materials) passenger overbridge has been built at the Cardiff end of the station, and opened in late 2010. It includes a new ticket office and gives better access across the line and to the long-stay car park.
In front of the station is a tight, marked-out area for short term
parking which is free for 20 minutes, but charged for longer stays. You must display a ticket even if using it free, which is a head-scratcher when you first read the machineís instructions. Just press the button. If you decide to park elsewhere, be warned that the roads near the station are designed for high-volume non-stop traffic which may not have much patience if you are struggling with signs, etc. Wheels: ChCa.
Newport also serves the Cardiff-Cheltenham Spa line. Click here to transfer to our guide for that line.
CARDIFF CENTRAL (Caerdydd Canolog)
Please note: it is several years since we visited this station. We were unable to take notes at the time, and some material is drawn from 3rd party sources. Cardiff Central is the biggest and busiest station in Wales. Its long concourse has a large train departures board and a range of services - ticket machines, news, snacks, etc. - with the ticket office at the western end. Platforms 1-7 are reached through two underpasses, the eastern one going to lifts, the other to stairs. Both have ticket barriers. There is a further access in the end wall: stairs to the fairly new platform 0 (zero - one of only four British stations to use 0, but there are good reasons for not renumbering all the platforms). Wheelchair users can avoid the stairs by using the station car park alongside Platform 0. It was intended to build a lift to this platform in 2009/10 but we don't know if it has happened yet.
The station is still a traditional one with toilets and waiting rooms on the platforms, all under long canopies (the plan does not claim accuracy on their layout). Most platforms are numbered 1, 2, whatever... but platforms 3 and 4 are divided as 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, to allow two short trains to use the same platform face at the same time. The 'a' halves are at the western (Swansea) end, the 'b' halves at the eastern (Bristol) end. Long trains occupy the whole platform.
You may also note a sign pointing to platform 5; there is no platform 5 - it got demolished. The plan shows where it was  because the station is struggling to cope with rising train numbers and the Network Rail plan (2008) envisaged rebuilding platform 5 c.2012.
The city's main bus station is a few yards from the main entrance, along with what looks like short-term parking for a few cars. But there is also pay and display parking near the station's southern Penarth Road entrance. Wheels: ChCa.
Our thanks to David Draper for assisting us with information on the station and providing the photos below of the main hall, underpass and traditional platform buildings.
|Please note: the notes and sketches are intended only to give a general impression, and should not be relied upon for more than that. Dudley Mall accepts no liability for errors, but will correct any significant ones notified to us through firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Dudley Mall, 62 Gervase Drive, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4AT.|
Content: Harry Drummond. Copyright © 2012 Dudley Mall unless otherwise attributed.