Bala and Festiniog Railway

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Bala & Festiniog Railway
Conwy Valley Line
to Llandudno
Ffestiniog Railway
to Porthmadog Harbour
Blaenau Ffestiniog (LNWR)
Stesion Fain
Blaenau Ffestiniog(
FR &
Ffestiniog Railway
to Duffws (FR)
Duffws (F&BR)
Glynllifon Street(F&BR)
Former wooden viaduct
Craig Ddu Quarry
Pengwern Quarry
Teigl Halt
Maentwrog Road
Line to south dismantled
Trawsfynydd power station
loading point
Trawsfynydd Lake Halt
Trawsfynydd Camp
Llafar Halt
Bryn-Celynog Halt
Cwm Prysor Viaduct
Cwm Prysor Halt
Capel Celyn Halt
Section flooded by Llyn Celyn
Tyddyn Bridge Halt
(under dam wall)
Bala (New)
Bala Junction
Ruabon to Barmouth Line
to Llandderfel
Bala (Penybont)
(original Bala Lake Halt)
Bala Lake Railway
to Llanuwchllyn
Ruabon to Barmouth Line
to Barmouth

The Bala and Festiniog Railway was a 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm), standard gauge, railway backed by the Great Western Railway (GWR)[1] railway in North Wales. It connected Bala with Blaenau Ffestiniog.


The railway originally connected Bala with Llan Ffestiniog. It was incorporated on 28 July 1873 and opened on 1 November 1882.[1] In 1883 the line was extended by converting the existing Festiniog and Blaenau Railway between Llan Ffestiniog and Blaenau Ffestiniog from 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) gauge to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge. The line terminated at Blaenau Ffestiniog (GWR) where until 1939 it connected with the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog. At Bala Junction, the line connected with the Ruabon to Barmouth GWR line.

The Bala and Festiniog was vested in the Great Western Railway on 1 July 1910. On nationalisation in 1948 management of the line passed to the Western Region of British Railways.[2]

The line closed to passengers in 1960 and to freight in 1961. An unusual feature of freight operation on the line was the carriage of 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mm) gauge slate wagons (provided by the GWR) on standard gauge transporter wagons between Tan-y-Manod and Blaenau Ffestiniog where the wagons were off-loaded in the large station yard and their loads of dressed slate transferred to standard gauge GWR wagons for carriage back the way they had come then on via Manod and Bala.

The building of the Llyn Celyn reservoir necessitated the flooding of the line. A diversion was considered but never built. A short section from Bala Junction to Bala remained opened but was eventually closed in 1965.

The summit of the line was at Cwm Prysor which lay at 1,278 feet or 390 metres above sea level. The line served an extremely remote area of North Wales, most of which was not served by a main road until the A4212 road opened in the early 1960s.

In 1964, a connection was made through Blaenau to the Conwy Valley Line at Blaenau Ffestiniog North allowing access as far as Trawsfynydd nuclear power station; a loading facility for nuclear flasks was constructed on a siding a hundred yards north of the closed Trawsfynydd Lake Halt.

In 1982, the Ffestiniog Railway was reopened to a wholly new Blaenau Ffestiniog on the site of the former GWR station. Conwy Valley line services were extended along the 1964 connection to the new interchange station and Blaenau Ffestiniog North (LNWR) was closed.

Current status[edit]

The remains of a tramway linking to the BFR near Llyn Celyn

The only part of the line in use today is the very short section between the two stations in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The section of line between Blaenau (GWR) and Trawsfynydd power station closed in 1998, although the track is protected and has remained in situ since. Much of the trackbed south of Trawsfynydd remains intact except for the section flooded by Llyn Celyn and some sections used to improve the A4212 road. Several other sections are open as permissive paths.

Many of the former stations are now in use as private residences.

Heritage railway preservation attempts[edit]

During 2016, the Trawsfynydd & Blaenau Ffestiniog Railway Company, a voluntary concern, began to clear the line to Trawsfynydd Lake railway station which they propose to be their terminus. They also intend to re-open Maentwrog Road, Llan Ffestiniog, a halt at Cwm Teigl and at Manod, en-route. [3] [4]

The clearing of the line was sanctioned by the owner of the trackbed, Network Rail and by 10 October 2016, more than 6 productive days had been achieved. Also, a bid was successfully made for DB Cargo's Class 08 locomotive No. 08757 from Crewe which would cost £19,600. A crowd funding site was launched to this end.[5]

See also[edit]