Credit: Sarah Dalton

Whitchurch’s ‘redundant’ train station that some locals don’t even know exists

The station is the least used in Cardiff as locals opt to use two nearby stations

WHITCHURCH train station is set to be transformed as part of the £800m South Wales Metro project – but locals are questioning whether it has become ‘redundant’.

The station, which is actually located in Rhiwbina and not Whitchurch, had 9,310 recorded entries and exits in 2022, which averages around 26 per day – or 13 passengers on a return fare basis. 

This is almost half of the amount of users of Birchgrove, the station with the next lowest figures in Cardiff, according to data from StatsWales.

“I didn’t know it existed,” said Kim Placo Plaza, a Whitchurch resident.

Many Whitchurch residents choose to use Llandaf station instead and question whether the Whitchurch station is even needed.

All station’s figures are back on the rise after they fell during the global pandemic, but Whitchurch’s figures have remained the lowest in Cardiff since 2009. Credit: Sarah Dalton

“I’m not surprised that Whitchurch station is left so unused, it certainly doesn’t serve Whitchurch,” said Bethan Ceri, 38. 

Ms Ceri moved into a flat by Whitchurch Primary School last year but has said she would always opt to use the station in Llandaff North instead. 

“The main problem with Whitchurch railway station is that it’s not in Whitchurch, it’s in Rhiwbina. But Rhiwbina residents already have their own station just a seven minute walk away from the Whitchurch one,” she said.

“I really don’t know why anyone that doesn’t live directly by the station would use it. It would take me 25 minutes to get to Whitchurch station and only six minutes to get to Llandaf station, plus I am three minutes from the main road where buses run every five minutes.”

Whitchurch train station runs Monday to Saturday, with one train going back and forth every 30 minutes along the South Wales Valley line between Coryton and Radyr.

Not all locals were so quick to dismiss the ’empty’ station though.

Ryan Moreland, 36, has lived by the station in the Rhiwbina/Whitchurch area for six years with his guide dog Jamie.

“It is far more than just a train station for me, it’s an integral part of my day-to-day life. Without it, I would be increasingly isolated with even the most basic of tasks becoming even more challenging to access,” he said. 

Mr Moreland’s guide dog, Jamie, is very nervous on buses and has slid the length of the bus several times when the driver has approached corners quickly or come to a sudden stop. 

This makes it very difficult for the guide dog to do his job.

“He’s much more settled on the more rhythmic trains. He really can only manage 5-10 minutes on a bus so it’s just not an option for me.

“If Whitchurch station was closed, I would be extremely limited in how I could get around and would probably have to use taxis which cost more so would further limit my mobility and independence,” Mr Moreland added.

Photo of Ryan Moreland and his guide dog Jamie stood on a train station platform, looking out at the oncoming train.

But for those who are able to choose between stations, many are opting for Llandaf – and not just because of its location.

Jack Fielding, 32, has lived in Whitchurch for just under three years and says the main issues with Whitchurch station are lack of parking, unreliability and limited services.

Photo of Jack Fielding, a resident of Whitchurch wearing a Wales jacket

“It’s the end of the line almost. I imagine Coryton and Whitchurch will generally be underused because they are miles from anywhere and don’t link on to any other line,” Mr Fielding said. 

Whitchurch Councillors are currently fighting to get the station linked directly to Radyr to create a circular route.

“For commuting, I’d probably get the bus or go to Llandaf, as the Whitchurch station is quite a walk away and doesn’t have many transport options,” he added.

Other residents shared similar opinions in the community’s Facebook group.

“It’s my nearest station, but I prefer Llandaf as the trains are more frequent and services more reliable,” said Ceri Derrick in a comment on the group.

“Whitchurch station feels a bit secluded. I would always choose to use Coryton or Rhiwbina, especially if I’m travelling by myself,” added Kathryn Williams.

Credit: Sarah Dalton

For Rhiwbina Councillor, Adrian Robson, the train station’s figures are not a shock. 

“There a series of stations on the Coryton line in close proximity and more needs to be done to promote all of them, including Whitchurch. All the stations are important to residents ,” he said. 

“Many people will not be aware of the pathway running under the A470 linking part of Whitchurch with this station. Increased signage and publicity by both Cardiff Council and Transport for Wales must be undertaken to show how easy it is to get to this station. 

“We also call on Transport for Wales to bring forward the planned Sunday service for this line and to look at increasing the frequency of trains so that it helps to take more cars off the road,” Coun Robson added.

Credit: Sarah Dalton

Although the number of users of the station are back on the rise after they fell due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Whitchurch’s figures have consistently remained the lowest in Cardiff since the count began in 2009.

The South Wales Valley line that runs through Whitchurch station is part of the Core Valley Lines which will be transformed into a South Wales Metro, under new plans by Transport for Wales. 

The Metro will invest £800 million in faster, green trains and will start work this year.