© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2013 First day of spring, the “Today” programme presenter said - though listeners had been emailing to contradict - it would be tomorrow, the 21st (that’s what I’d always thought). Whatever the date, it still feels like winter. There were patches of snow on the hills around Church Stretton, where I joined the train and two pals from Shrewsbury, and the Black Mountains, further south, were well covered. We’d realised that the old fogeys’ tickets (or “Club 55”, as they’re known by Arriva Trains Wales) would not be available after Sunday. I think we’d been putting off, waiting for better weather. “We’re planning a trip to South Wales - would you like to join us?”. I’d spent a day with one of my fellow travellers nearly thirty years ago, exploring some of the valley lines from Cardiff. Since then, there have been several reopenings - Aberdare (must go there one day), Ebbw Vale (went there on a railtour in 1991), Barry to Bridgend, and Maesteg. “We were thinking of going to Bridgend via Barry, then back to Cardiff for a pub lunch”. I booked to Maesteg - I’d never travelled on either of the latter two revived routes. The passenger service from Barry to Bridgend ended in 1964, but the line remained open as a double-track freight route. It reopened to passengers in 2005, after some track renewal and upgrading, and some new signalling, with services running to a reconstructed bay platform at Bridgend. In the meantime, Maesteg had lost its passenger trains in 1970. Again, track remained for coal trains; they are long-since gone, but passenger trains returned in 1992. We joined the next Bridgend service at Cardiff Central, for a pleasant-enough run, with views of the sea from time to time. Bridgend to Maesteg has a very different flavour - single track, winding and climbing up the Llynfi valley, keeping company with the wooded river for most of the journey. There’s very little sign of former activity, though the junction at Tondu is still intact. The tracks towards Margam looked useable, as did those in the other direction towards Pontycymmer, complete with semaphore signals - but judging by the rust on the rails, they have seen little use recently. The next train to Cardiff from Maesteg would the one I arrived on. Faced with three minutes or an hour and three minutes, I opted for the former... (perhaps another day). Back to Cardiff Central - “a day return to Cardif Bay please”. It’s walkable, but I’d never travelled along the mile or so from Queen Street. where the shuttle service departs from platform 3. There’s work going on here to contruct a fourth platform, at the opposite side of the main island platform. Will it be Queen Street’s platform 0? Central has such a platform! I debated walking back from the bay, before finding myself back at the former Bute Road terminus, where the original station building is in need of some TLC. Perhaps it’s not quite as iconic as the Bute Docks Company’s Pierhead building, but it would be worth renovating, surely? My two travelling companions had managed to find their way back to Central by the time I got there. “We’re cold - we’re thinking of going back on the 3.20” Poor things - they must be getting old. It had been positively springlike down at the bay. The 3.20 arrived at a packed platform, in the form of a two-car class 150. It left, packed, without us. The 3.50 had suddenly looked much more attractive... Link: More snaps from Cardiff Bay Maesteg - 150 279 Cardiff Bay - 153 303 Bute Road station buildings Cardiff Bay Pierhead building -  Bute Docks Company Cardiff Bay Pierhead building - loco and crest Cardiff Bay Pierhead building - 2-4-0 loco The Pierhead building - Bute Docks Co / Cardiff Railway Freightliner freight train - 66510 Platform Zero - 150 235