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Ffestiniog Railway

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Harbour Station, PORTHMADOG, Gwynedd. LL49 9NF
Tel: +44 01766 516000; Fax: +44 01766 516006

Email: enquiries@festrail.co.uk

Location
Caernarfon: 53 08N 4 17W
United Kingdom National Grid Ref SH 481624
Dinas: 53 06N 4 17W
  UK National Grid Ref SH 476586
Waunfawr: 53 06N 4 13W UK National Grid Ref SH 526 590

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History.......The railway today........Welsh Highland Railway
Days and times ....... How to get there

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The Ffestiniog Railway is one of the Great Little Trains of Wales, a group of eight narrow gauge railways which offers bargain travel through its Wanderer Ticket scheme. The Ffestiniog operates over a 13½ mile of track, linking with the national network at Minffordd, and at Blaenau Ffestiniog.
At Caernarfon, it also operates the Welsh Highland Railway (Caernarfon), a first stage of a scheme which, when completed, will result in a 26-mile narrow gauge through the heart of Snowdonia. On April 8 2009, the line was extended from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert, in 2010, a further extension to Pont Croesor, and last year, completion of the full length of the line to Porthmadog.

History

In 2005, the railway celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the first trains to operate on the line, while this year is the thirtieth anniversary of trains operating between its original termini. A special event commemorating the anniversary takes place between May 5th and 7th.
Of 1ft 11½in gauge, the Ffestiniog Railway was opened as a horse-drawn tramway in 1836 to transport slate from the Blaenau Ffestiniog quarries to the harbour at Porthmadog, the horses hauling the empty wagons to the top of the line, then riding down on the 'Dandy' wagon at the rear of the train.
The increase in cargoes (100,000 tons by the 1890s) led to the introduction of steam locomotives from the middle of the 19th century.
The decline of demand for slate brought freight traffic to an end, and although the line survived for a decade or so by carrying passengers, complete closure came in 1946.
The track was lifted piecemeal until, in 1954, a group of enthusiasts, buoyed by the initiative shown by pioneers of the railway preservation movement on the Talyllyn Railway, stepped in to rebuild the line. In m October, Livingston Thompson, a Double Fairlie 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 Tank locomotive, one of the original trains to operate over the line was released from the National Railway Museum to take part in the celebrations.

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The Railway Today

With twisting turns and steep gradients - and even a complete spiral - the Ffestiniog is one of the most spectacular narrow-gauge lines in the UK. Using the Ffestiniog Railway and its links to the national network, it is possible to complete a figure-of-eight circumnavigation of Wales by rail, duplicating only a short piece of track between Shrewsbury and Craven Arms on the Marches Line.
The Ffestiniog itself has a number of stations en route, and it is possible to get off at many of the stations and walk to the next to catch the returning train.
The coastal station is at Porthmadog Harbour, after which the line crosses The Cob, an embankment across the mouth of the River Glaslyn. At Boston Halt is the FR's main workshops after which the track passes through a tunnel on its way to Minffordd, the interchange with trains on the national network. Soon after leaving the next station, Penrhyn, the line enters the Snowdonia National Park, and the gradients get steeper as the train proceeds. Plas Halt is within walking distance of the Maentwrog Field Study Centre. Tan-y-Bwlch has several trails leading down to Llyn Mair and other lakes in the vicinity. Dduallt Halt is set in the loop of the spiral, after which the line travels through Moelwyn Tunnel onto the western shore of Llyn Ystradau. Soon after, Tanygrisiau with its visitor centre is reached, before the final climb to the terminus at Blaenau Ffestiniog, 710 vertical feet above the starting point.
From Blaenau Ffestiniog there are bus connections to the Llechwedd Slate Quarries to which the railway owes its existence.

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Days, times and events 2014 (all are Steam-hauled)
(Match the dates with the coloured panels at the top of the timetable columns)

Some trains (indicated by timings in red) offer connecting services at Minffordd and Tan-y-Bwlch, where passengers may make cross-platform transfers to shorten or lengthen their journey as desired.
There are also request stops at Boston Lodge, Penrhyn, Plas Halt, Dduallt and Tanygrisiau

Special Events

May 2nd to 5th Sixty years of Preservation on the Ffestiniog Railway
May 29th, July 31st, And August 7th, 14th and 21st
Take the Jazz Express for a BBQ at Tan-y-Bwlch station
August Every Wednesday and Thursday Food on the Move aboard the 1805 departure
September 20th  TrailFest. Runners race the train from Blaenau to Porthmadog
October 10th to 12th Victorian Trains Authentic trains and costumed characters
October 29th, 30th and 31st Halloween Trains. Wear your ghoulish costumes to join the FR's witches and spooks
December 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st
Santa Specials. Carols on the platform with Santa joining the train to give presents to the children There's sherry and mince pies for the adults.

Fares
A wide range of short- and long-distance fares are available.
Sample fares (Third Class) are:
All Day Rover (unlimited travel on day of issue) Adult £21.00; Concessions £18.90
Half-way trip (To/from Tan-y-Bwlch from Porthmadog) Adult £13.50, Concessions £12.20
Half-way trip (To/from Tan-y-Bwlch from Blaenau Ffestiniog only) Adult £11.50, Concessions £10.40
Sunset Special 18.05 Service only (Valid for one round trip to Bl. Ffestiniog) Adult £17.90; Concessions £16.20
New for 2014  is the Snowdonia Single (Adult £30.00; Concessions £27.00) which allows one-way travel over the whole  of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog of vice versa.
Travel First Class in Observation Car or traditional vintage carriage compartments for additional charge of £5.00 (single), £10.00 (return) per person
Concessionary fares are applicable to Senior Citizens and registered disabled visitors
Children under 3 travel free, One child 3-15 years travels free with each paying adult, while additional children travel half-fare.
There is a special rate for parties of 20 or more (details from the railway), while bicycles (limited accommodation) and dogs are carried at a flat fare of £2.50
Disabled Passengers Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog stations have ramped access and specially adapted toilet facilities. Carriages on some trains have extra wide doors for standard width wheelchairs. Advance notice is required.

The Welsh Highland Railway (Caernarfon)

The first phase of the Ffestiniog Railway's ambitious plans to reopen the line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog through the Snowdonia National Park, was the two mile stretch from Caernarfon to Dinas, which opened at the end of the 1997 season, 1998 marked the first full season at the northern end of the line, and 2003 saw the extension to  Rhyd Ddu opened, bringing the journey to 12 miles from Caernarfon.
On April 8 2009, the next phase of the extension opened between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert.
In 2011 yet another milestone was reached: the final extension to Porthmadog opening on April 20th.

The line now runs for some 26 miles through some of the wildest and most romantic scenery which Wales has to offer.

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Days, Times, Special Events and Fares 2014 (All services are Steam-hauled)
(Match the dates with the coloured panels at the top of the timetable columns)


Grey days indicate that the WHR Railway is not open, but services are running on the Ffestiniog Railway from Porthmadog

Events 2014
Special fares and timetables may apply
Extra Trains run on May
and September event days
Contact the Ffestiniog for details

  • May 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th 60 years of Preservation
  • May 16th, 17th and 18th Rail-Ale Festival
  • September 12th, 13th and 14th Super power Weekend
  • October 31st Halloween Train
  • Dec 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st Santa Specials

There are also Request stops at Nantmor, Mellionen, Snowdon Ranger, Plas-y-Nant, Tryfan Junction and Bontnewydd.
Some trains (indicated by timings in red) offer connecting services at Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert, where passengers may make cross-platform transfers
to shorten or lengthen their journey as desired.

 Fares

There is a wide range of fares. Among the most popular are:

Caernarfon to Waunfawr or vice versa, return fares are: £11.50 (Adult), £10.40 (Concessions)
Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu or vice versa, return fares are: £21.00 (Adult), £18.90(Concessions)
Caernarfon to Beddgelert or vice versa, return fares are: £26.80 (Adult), £24.20 (Concessions)
Caernarfon to Porthmadog or vice versa return fares are: £35.00 (Adult), £21.50 (Concessions)
New for 2014  is the Snowdonia Single (Adult £30.00; Concessions £27.00) which allows one-way travel over the whole  of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways from Caernarfon to Blaenau Ffestiniog of vice versa.
Pullman Luxury On some trains, Bodysgallenn, a Pullman saloon or the Pullman Observation Carriage is available for First Class travel. A variable supplement is payable.
For instance, per seat Caernarfon to Porthmadog is £10 one-way.
Concession fares apply to Senior Citizens and Registered Disabled visitors.

Children under 3 travel free, One child 3-15 years travels free with each paying adult, while additional children travel for approximately half-fare.
There is a special rate for parties of 20 or more (details from the railway), while dogs and bicycles are carried at a flat fare of £3.00.
Disabled Passengers Carriages on some trains have extra wide doors for standard width wheelchairs. Advance notice is required.
Seat reservations for first-class and disabled passengers on most journeys from Porthmadog or Caernarfon are available for a supplement of 50p per seat.

How to get there

Blaenau Ffestiniog is on the A470, the main trunk road between North and South Wales, and is served by buses from Llandudno and Dolgellau.
Porthmadog, Caernarfon and Dinas are located on the A487, the latter served by buses between Caernarfon and Pwllheli.

Waunfawr and Rhyd Ddu are on the  A4086, served by buses between Caernarfon and Beddgelert.

By train, there are links with Arriva Trains Wales' Cambrian Coast services at Porthmadog and Minffordd, while Blaenau Ffestiniog is served by Arriva Trains Wales's Conway Valley Line from Llandudno Junction.
Buses link Caernarfon with the mainline station at Bangor.

For details of connecting services, including travel planner and timetables, visit the Traveline Cymru website.

Select this link to access the Ffestiniog Railway's own web site.

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Copyright © 1998/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved
Page created January 28 1998. Redesigned November 6 1999. Last update March 20 2014
If you have and comments, suggestions, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails