This map portrays the steam trains and narrow guage railways in Wales.
The earliest recorded railway is shown in the De re metallica of 1556, which shows a mine in Bohemia with a railway of approximately 2 ft (610 mm) gauge. During the 16th century railways were mainly restricted to hand-pushed narrow gauge lines in mines throughout Europe. During the 17th century mine railways were extended to provide transportation above ground. These lines were industrial, connecting mines with nearby transportation points, usually canals or other waterways. These railways were usually built to the same narrow gauge as the mine railways from which they developed. Extensive narrow gauge railway systems served the front-line trenches of both sides in World War I. After the end of the war the surplus equipment from these created a small boom in narrow gauge railway building in Europe.
Cambrian Railways owned 230 miles (370 km) of track over a large area of mid-Wales. The system was an amalgamation of a number of railways that were incorporated in 1864, 1865 and 1904. The Cambrian connected with two of the larger railways to give connections to the North West of England, via the London and North Western Railway; and with the Great Western Railway for connections between London and North Wales. The Cambrian Railways were absorbed by the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922 as a result of the Railways Act 1921. The name is continued today in the route known as the Cambrian Line.
There are three rail "gateways" to Wales (as with the roads) : the North, Midwales, and South Wales. For the international traveller Manchester and Liverpool Airports serve the North. Journey times from Manchester to Colwyn Bay (situated in the centre of the northern coast) are approximately 1.5 to 2 hours via Manchester Central. Fast Virgin West Coast trains link Holyhead, North Wales, to London Euston, serving Bangor and Colwyn Bay. Mid Wales, including Aberystwyth on the West coast is serviced with trains from Birmingham via Shrewsbury. This service connects with Virgin trains from London Euston at Birmingham. South Wales is served by Great Western Intercity trains run between London Paddington and Cardiff. This service also runs to Newport, Bridgend, Port Talbot, Neath and Swansea. The service continues through to Swansea with connections to the West coast.
Wales' railway network developed in conjunction with that of the rest of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century. The North Wales Coast Line and South Wales Main Line sought to profit from traffic between London and Ireland. Numerous railways were built to export coal and iron from South Wales and slate from North Wales. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, tourism was booming and railways served resorts such as Llandudno, Barry Island and locations along the Cambrian Coast Line. The network was rationalised during the twentieth century (particularly by the Beeching axe), with mainly east-west routes retained. As a result, the rail network within Wales is no longer contiguous. Devolution led to the formation of a single franchise for Wales in 2003. This franchise, which includes some railway lines in England for completeness, is currently operated by Arriva Trains Wales. As rail usage has grown during the past decades, several freight lines have seen rail services reintroduced, including Cardiff's City Line, the Vale of Glamorgan Line, and the Ebbw Valley Railway. As of 2008, there are 678 miles of mainline railways in Wales
Arriva Trains Wales operate all mainline services wholly within Wales. These range from rural lines such as the Welsh Marches Line to the Cardiff commuter lines, and long distance routes between North and South Wales, via Chester, Wrexham and Shrewsbury. They also operate services from Wales to Manchester, Crewe, Birmingham, and Gloucester. Services to London are operated by First Great Western (from South Wales) and Virgin Trains (from North Wales). First Great Western also operate services from Cardiff to Portsmouth via Bristol, Bath and Southampton, and CrossCountry operate services from Cardiff to Nottingham. The bulk of rail transport in Wales today is concentrated in the south with Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Newport, Swansea and Bridgend being the busiest stations. Most passengers travel on east-west routes. In 2005/06, there were approximately 20.1 million rail passenger journeys beginning or ending in Wales, including 13 million starting and ending in Wales. Cardiff was the destination for almost 40 per cent of these journeys. In the north, the bulk of rail travel is concentrated around Wrexham General, Wrexham Central and Llandudno Junction.
There is only one remaining steelworks in South Wales. This is located at Port Talbot (Llanwern steelworks closed in 2001 causing 1340 jobs to be lost). The Port Talbot steelworks is called an ‘integrated’ steelworks because all stages of manufacture take place on one site. The high quality coal and iron ore have now been exhausted in South Wales. Nowadays coal and iron ore are imported from abroad where high quality raw materials can be extracted more cheaply. It is therefore more efficient for the steelworks to be located on the coast. Traditional Industries on the coast - Integrated Steelworks
Integrated Steelworks at Port Talbot Heavy industries are located in Port Talbot because its cheap, flat, plentiful reclaimed land and accessible – near the M4 and on the coast (port).
Lucky Goldstar in Newport LG, a South Korean multinational company, decided to locate a semi conductor plant in Newport, South Wales in 1996.
Ebbw Vale – Festival Park Shopping The WDA (Welsh Development Agency), local authorities and the private sector spent £60 million on converting the area from a wasteland of spoil heaps into the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival. Festival Park Factory Shopping Village is now located on this site.
FROM ‘SOOT’ TO ‘SONY’ !!! South Wales was once famous for its coal and steelworks in valleys such as the Rhondda. The industrial scene today, is very different. The old ‘heavy’ industries have gone and new industries from OVERSEAS have located there due to INWARD INVESTMENT. What is Inward Investment ? This is where a government office eg Welsh Development Agency, has offered financial incentives to companies to set up in the area. (This area also received financial support from the Central government under Assisted area scheme). Much of the new industry is HI-TECH INDUSTRY.