Using the Taff Vale Railway lines above Pontypridd, it ran on its own metals to Penrhos where it connected with Caerphilly station of the Rhymney Railway. It then ran on the Brecon and Merthyr Railway through Machen to Bassaleg junction for connection to either the Alexandra Docks, or Newport High Street station for passengers connecting to the South Wales Railway or the London and North Western Railway.
The line closed to passengers in 1962, and was shut to freight from 1965. The northern stretches of the lines from Upper Boat to Pontypridd forms the redeveloped dual carriageway sections of the A470 road, while the southern section from Rhydyfelin to Penrhos form part of the Taff Trail cycleway, constructed at a cost of £42,000
From 1870 onwards, the demand for Rhondda steam coal was expanding quicker than the infrastructure of the Taff Vale Railway and Cardiff docks could provide. In 1874 the total coal and coke exported from Cardiff and Penarth was 2,886,000 tons, which had risen to 7,774,828 tons by 1882. By 1880 a train typically took 23 hours to travel from the Ocean Colliery to Bute Dock, and 27 hours for the empty wagons to return. This slowed production, as no additional railway capacity had been built, and only the Roath Basin provided additional dock capacity.
Two attempts were made to break the monopoly of the Marquess of Bute. The Barry Railway and Docks built at a cost of £2 million a new dock at Barry Island with a railway connecting with Rhondda above the narrow Tongwynlais gorge. The first coal was shipped on 18 July, 1889, with a second dock opened in 1898, and a third in 1914. On 16 March, 1896 the main line between Porth and Barry was opened for passenger traffic, to connect with the paddle steamers of P and A Campbell. The second was the provision of the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway company to provide access to Swansea docks, but due to the incline through the Rhondda Tunnel this was only a commercial proposition for the collieries furthest up the Rhondda Fawr.
The other driver behind the building of the PC&NR was to provide a direct route to the Alexandra Dock, thereby reducing both the time and cost of shipping coal directly to the new facility. Lord Tredegar and Sir George Elliot of Powell Duffryn collieries agreed that the only way to secure the future income of the Alexandra docks was the provision of a direct railway route.
Local passenger trains terminated at Caerphilly, but through passenger and freight services continued over the Brecon and Merthyr Railway's Caerphilly branch to Bassaleg, where at West Mendelgief junction the PC&NR trains joined the metals of the Alexandra Docks Railway; through passenger services terminated at Newport High Street station for connection to either the Great Western Railway, the London and North Western Railway or the South Wales Railway,
The single track from Caerphilly to Bassaleg provided both too little capacity for the freight traffic, as well as a challenging 1:39 climb out of Caerphilly station for loaded trains. The Machen Loop Act of 1887 gave the PC&NR the right to double track the route, with a diverged route from Gwaun-y-Bara junction to Machen providing a 1:200 slope for loaded trains. The new double track came into operation on 14 September, 1891, and was immediately transferred to the Brecon and Merthyr Railway; which in return paid 50% of the annual net earnings from the Caerphilly branch to the PC&NR.
This situation continued until halted at the TVR's request, when the PC&NR purchased ten locomotives from the newly electrified Mersey Railway, and started its own freight operations from the 30 April, 1906. They also purchased some elderly locomotives and stock from the GWR, which were ironically returned to the Great Western in 1923 - although they were some 20 years older, the Great Western kindly allowed them to regain their former numbers.
Passenger services were run in two forms:
The northern stretches of the lines from Upper Boat to Pontypridd forms the redeveloped dual carriageway sections of the A470 road, while the southern section from Rhydyfelin to Penrhos form part of the Taff Trail cycleway, constructed at a cost of £42,000
|1865||Alexandra (Newport) Dock Company incorporated. Subscribed to by Lord Tredegar, Crawshay Bailey and other ironmasters from Cwmbran, Nantyglo, Tredegar and Rhymney. Act also allows construction of railways|
|1875||Alexandra North Dock opened|
|8 August 1878||Pontypridd Caerphilly and Newport Railway Act passed. Promoted by J.C. Parkinson of the Alexandra Docks and Railway and Sir George Elliot of Powell Duffryn collieries. Engineer is Sir James W. Szlumper|
|1882||Alexandra (Newport) Dock Company is re-named the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway (ANDR)|
|1883||Act to take over Newport Town Dock passed|
|1883||PC&NR agrees plans to use the Nixons Private Railway and Powell Duffryn Private Railway to run up the valley from Abercynon to Aberdare|
|1884||Taff Vale Railway works PC&NR line from Pontypridd to Alexandra Docks.|
|1884||ANDR takes over Newport Town Dock|
|6 June 1897||PC&NR taken over by the Alexandra Docks and Railway|
|2 November 1903||The Roath Dock Branch is opened in conjunction with the Great Western Railway and the Cardiff Railway. Joint line connects Pengam Junction to Queen Alexandra Dock, Cardiff|
|1 September 1904||Local services taken over by ANDR. New service from Pontypridd (Tram Road) Halt to Caerphilly started. Uses two steam railmotors built by the Glasgow Railway and Engineering Company of Govan. Seven halts opened on route|
|1 January 1906||ANDR starts bus service from Docks Office to the Corporation Tram Terminus|
|30 April 1906||Taff Vale Railway stops operating trains from Pontypridd to Alexandra Docks when Alexandra Docks company takes over with ten engines bought from the Mersey Railway|
|July 1907||Queen Alexandra Dock, Cardiff opened. Cardiff now had of docks and of quayside|
|1920||Newport Town Dock closed and filled in|
|1922||As a result of the Railways Act 1921, the ANDR and the PC&NR are merged into the Great Western Railway|
|1933||Bus service within Docks withdrawn|
|17 September 1956||Passenger services withdrawn on Pontypridd, Caerphilly, Machen, Newport route|
|1963||Freight services withdrawn on Pontypridd, Caerphilly, Machen, Newport route|
|3 September 1979||Maesglas Junction to East Mendalgief Junction closed|
|29 October 1979||Dock Street Depot to Town Dock Sidings closed.|