There was a time when the South Wales valleys were crisscrossed with hundreds of railway tracks. These have virtually all been swept away, leaving, if you are lucky, a two-coach Pacer screeching its lonely way up and down a single track.
The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, or Blaenavon Heritage Railway as it seems to be styling itself these days, has gone some way to give an impression of how things were, having restored some of the many sidings and crossing lines around its headquarters at Furnace Sidings.
From there, trains run along two miles of the old main line between Whistle Inn Halt and Blaenavon (High Level), and up a short branch to the Big Pit mining museum. For further information, please see the official site detailed below.
With such a short line, it is inevitably a railway that appeals more to the enthusiast than to the general public. However it can claim a number of unique features:
- It has the only rail-over-rail bridge on a preserved standard gauge line, although sadly this is not used by passenger trains.
- The line northwards from Furnace Sidings is the steepest on any standard gauge preserved passenger-carrying line in Britain, which ensures some spectacular starts from the locomotives.
- The northern terminus, Whistle Inn Halt, stands at 1307 feet (400m) above sea level and is the highest standard gauge station in England and Wales.