The changes to rail freight in Wales & the Borders since the 1980’s have been dramatic in many ways & 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 & renewed traction & rolling stock fleets.
Until the 1980’s 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 & 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 & many other flows. However Welsh fright is far from dead. Class 60 hauled oil & steam trains still ply the South Wales main line & there have been small revivals such as cement from Penyffordd.