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Rail Freight (Paperback)

Wales and the Borders

P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Transport > Trains & Railways World History > UK & Ireland > Wales

By Paul Shannon
Imprint: Key Publishing
Series: Railways and Industry
Pages: 96
Illustrations: Approx. 160
ISBN: 9781913870218
Published: 1st August 2022

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The changes to rail freight in Wales and the Borders since the 1980s have been dramatic in many ways and have often been a knock-on effect of huge transformations in the industries that the railway serves, most notably, the coal-mining sector. These have led to a railway with a slimmed-down infrastructure and renewed traction and rolling-stock fleets.

Until the 1980s, coal was still the lifeblood of many railway lines in South Wales. However, one by one, the pits closed, leaving just a handful of surface operations still active in 2020. The sight and sound of a Class 37 winding its way up a steep-sided valley is now a distant memory. Industrial decline has affected other traffics too, with the loss of the heavy iron ore trains to Llanwern and many other flows. However, Welsh rail freight is far from dead. Class 60-hauled oil and steel trains still ply the South Wales main line, and there have even been small revivals such as cement from Penyffordd.

Illustrated with over 150 stunning photographs, many of which are previously unpublished, this volume looks at the changing face of rail freight in Wales and the Borders, detailing the changes in traction, rolling stock and railway infrastructure over four decades.

Paul Shannon is, without doubt, one of the foremost experts on BR and post-privatisation rail-borne freight traffic, and these two new titles are crammed full of detailed information about the various flows and operations that have occupied train operators from the 1980s to the present day.

Both geographical areas - North West England and Wales and the Borders - have been rich in variety of originating, terminating and passing freight, with mineral, steel, oil, chemical and various other traffics. While there’s still much to see today, it’s also sobering to remember how much freight has been lost over the past 40years, and how many routes and locations are almost unrecognisable these days.

The photography throughout is excellent and, for the modeller, there are countless locations that lend themselves to being reproduced in miniature - the stone terminal at Northenden is just one example. The images also reveal lots of fascinating details concerning traction and rolling stock, from classic BR diesels to the ubiquitous ‘66’. Highly recommended.

Model Rail Magazine

A pictorial survey of freight trains, almost all images taken in the last forty years and of course all diesel hauled. Interesting to see the types of traffic that have vanished from railways though more recent pictures show what remains.

This book has the merit of commendably informative captions giving details of train loads and their handling so is a useful record of freight traffic.

Welsh Railways Research Circle Newsletter No.171, Autumn 2022

"Overall, recommended if you like diesel-hauled freight trains and views of recent industrial history."

Ffestiniog Railway Magazine - Winter 22

About Paul Shannon

Paul's love of railways was triggered by taking the train to school in 1970. He developed a keen interest in rail freight and travelled widely to record the changing railway scene from the late 1970s onwards. He is the author or compiler of around 50 books, mainly covering different aspects of rail freight but also some general titles on railway history and infrastructure. He has also contributed more than 100 articles to enthusiast magazines and written around 40 DVD scripts, some covering railway operations in mainland Europe.

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