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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.
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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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 afigure-of-eight circumnavigation of Wales by rail, duplicating only a short piece of track between Shrewsbury and Craven Arms on the Marches Line.
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Some trains offer connecting services at Minffordd and Tan-y-Bwlch, where passengers may make cross-platform transfers to shorten or lengthen their journey as desired. Contact the FR for times.
There are also request stops at Boston Lodge, Plas Halt, Dduallt and Tanygrisiau
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 £19.60; Concessions £17.65
Half-way trip (To/from Tan-y-Bwlch from Porthmadog) Adult £11.80, Concessions £10.65
Half-way trip (To/from Tan-y-Bwlch from Blaenau Ffestiniog only) Adult £10.80, Concessions £9.75
Sunset Special 18.20 Service only (Valid for one round trip to Bl. Ffestiniog) Adult £16.60; Concessions £14.95
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 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.
There are also Request stops at Nantmor, Mellionen, Snowdon Ranger,
Plas-y-Nant, Tryfan Junction and Bontnewydd.
Some trains offer connecting services at Rhyd Ddu or Beddgelert, where passengers may make cross-platform transfers
to shorten or lengthen their journey as desired. Contact the FR for times.
There is a wide range of fares. Among the most popular are:
Caernarfon to Waunfawr or vice versa, return fares are: £10.80
(Adult), £9.75 (Concessions); single fares: £7.20 (Adult), £6.50 (Concessions)
Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu or vice versa, return fares are: £19.60 (Adult), £17.65 (Concessions); single fares: £13.10 (Adult), £11.80 (Concessions)
Caernarfon to Beddgelert or vice versa, return fares are: £25.20 (Adult), £22.70 (Concessions); single fares: £16.80 (Adult), £15.15 (Concessions)
Caernarfon to Porthmadog or vice versa return fares are: £33.00 (Adult), £29.70 (Concessions); single fares: £22.00 (Adult), £19.80 (Concessions)
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 Beddgelert is £7 one-way, while Caernarfon to Porthmadog is £8 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 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 £2.50.
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.
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.
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
Page created January 28 1998. Redesigned November 6 1999. Last update January 7 2013
If you have and comments, suggestions, or glitches to report, please contact the author at WalesRails