Page updated: 17August 2023

Passenger closure of the Maindee curve, Newport, Gwent

This north-to-east curve, to the east of Newport High Street station, provides a means of running trains between the Crewe-Shrewsbury-Hereford line (the so-called north and west line) and the Severn Tunnel for points in the south-west of England, without the need for reversing in the Newport, Gwent area. It was in daily use by passenger trains between the north and south-west until the route's down-grading with the diversion of most such through traffic via Birmingham New Street.

From 6 March 1967 the service was reduced by the diversion, via Newport station, of the daytime round trip between Liverpool and Plymouth, leaving one overnight round trip between Manchester and Penzance, but bolstered during summers with weekend services between the north-west and south-west, and with Motorail services. From 4 May 1970 the daily overnight round trip was withdrawn but the summer weekend services continued to operate until summer season 1982, then leaving as the last regularly scheduled "passenger" service the Newton Abbot - Stirling Motorail service which was withdrawn after the final trip, on 29 September, of its 1984 summer season.

The line was then without regular passenger service until resuscitated from Saturday 4 October 1997. The only services booked that winter were: 1418 Saturdays Waterloo - Manchester and 1325 Sundays Penzance - Manchester, all other trains between the Hereford line and Bristol being booked to reverse at Newport (including unadvertised ones doing so on the middle roads) but this ceased again from 24 May 1998 because of "abatement of competition" complications. These were resolved and Wales & West (the TOC in question) obtained authority to operate up to one round trip a day between Penzance and Manchester over the Maindee curve from 30 May 1999. However, they appear not regularly to have exercised those rights until the first timetabled use from 26 September 1999, when the following trains were scheduled to use the curve:
1V80 1104 Monday to Friday Manchester Piccadilly - Penzance
1V79 0933 Saturday Manchester Piccadilly - Penzance (until 26 March 2000, plus 27 May)
1V53 1324 Sunday Manchester Piccadilly - Weston super Mare (9 January to 26 March 2000)
1V54 1256 or 1355 Sunday Manchester Piccadilly - Paignton (until 2 January 2000)
1M61 0653 Monday to Friday Penzance - Manchester Piccadilly
1M61 0615 Saturday Penzance - Manchester Piccadilly (until 26 March 2000, plus 27 May)
1M41 1335 Sunday Penzance - Stockport (9 January to 13 February 2000)
1M41 1320 Sunday Penzance - Manchester Piccadilly (until 2 January 2000)
1M41 1751 Sunday Weston super Mare - Stockport (20 February to 26 March 2000)

From 28 May 2000 they had authority (not fully utilised) to operate up to three round trips a day. These included services between Manchester and both London Waterloo and Penzance. With the subsequent reorganisations of TOCs the London Waterloo route disappeared and by summer 2004 the only workings round the curve were a northbound Penzance to Manchester on Mondays to Fridays, and round trips on Saturdays and Sundays only. In preparation for reorganisation of their services into an interval pattern, Arriva Trains Wales applied to withdraw all services from the curve from the timetable change on 11 December 2005.

The ministerial approval to closure was dated 11 November 2005 and the last regular passenger trains ran on Saturday 10 December 2005 - the day before the annual timetable change. The line remains in use for freight trains and - for a period - also for empty HST diesel units between Bristol St.Philips Marsh depot and Hereford. It is also used - from Monday to Thursday nights, about one week a month, during engineering works - by diverted late evening/early morning passenger trains betwen Hereford and Cardiff.

Richard Maund

This article also appeared in Railway and Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 46, April 2006.

To return to home page or to contact address.