Past The Tracks
The Ross, Monmouth and Pontypool Road Line
The Ross, Monmouth and Pontypool Road line was originally two separate lines but was operated by the Great Western railway as one, running from Ross On Wye to Little Mill junction near Pontypool. The line ran through the Welsh countryside, and was a single track line throughout.
Opened in 1874 and starting from Ross-On-Wye, the line ran southwest alongside the River Wye through Symond's Yat to Monmouth where it connected to the Wye Valley line which ran south, through Tintern to Chepstow. There was also at Monmouth a connection to a barely used freight line to Coleford which closed in the first quarter of the twentieth century.
From Monmouth, where the station at Monmouth Troy was reached by a large Bowstring viaduct over the river Wye, the line ran southwest through Raglan and Usk to Little Mill junction and on to Pontypool.
Because the line was in a mainly rural area with very few large centers of population along the route, it was never a particular well used line, and not long after coming into British Railways control it was earmarked for possible closure.
However, this was unsurprisingly met with strong local resistance, and BR decided to keep the line for a six month trial period, during which time they also provided a greatly increased service. However, due to the fact the new service required two diesel units to service it instead of just one, it proved to be a failure, despite ticket returns being increased throughout the route. In hindsight many people feel that BR deliberately set the line up for a fall by providing the new service knowing that it would prove to be unprofitable.
The southern section from Monmouth to Pontypool closed to passenger traffic in 1955. The northern section to Ross held out until 1958 but it too met with the same fate and was closed and subsequently lifted.
Today not much remains of the line, however, the fine viaduct at Monmouth still remains, though in rather poor condition. Much of the trackbed was used for road improvements some years after closure, but the station building at Raglan still stands and can be seen from the main A40 road that runs from the Midlands to South Wales.
On a brighter note, the station building at Monmouth Troy was sold for preservation and eventually moved to Winchcombe station on the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire railway where it has been restored to excellent condition.
The story of the Ross, Monmouth and Pontypool line is very similar to that of many rural branches throughout the UK. Even today it is unlikely that the line would be profitable, and with most of the trackbed and stations redeveloped, the line belongs to the past, gone but certainly not forgotten.