Cardiff Bay station opened in 1840 to link Butetown (Cardiff Docks) with the city centre. Today trains to Cardiff Bay travel along the Butetown Branch Line, a shuttle service every twelve minutes from Cardiff Queen Street. The industry that had turned Cardiff into one of Britain's greatest ports had declined by the end of WW2, as did the area around the station, but the regeneration of the past two decades has transformed Cardiff Bay beyond recognition.
Within walking distance of the station is the Wales Millennium Centre, home to the national orchestra, opera, dance, theatre and literature companies. Across the street is the Senedd - the Welsh National Assembly building - and the Mermaid Quay waterfront shopping centre. The Butetown History and Arts Centre is just south of the station, and houses exhibitions relating to the history of the docks and the area around them.