Porthmadog Harbour railway station

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Porthmadog Harbour
FR PHS Palmerston & link crop.jpg
Porthmadog Harbour railway station in 2011. The point work of the WHR's Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL) can be seen in the foreground, with the FR's 0-4-0 locomotive Palmerston waiting in the then single platform station to pilot a WHR train back into the platform from the Cob
Place Porthmadog
Area Gwynedd
Coordinates 52°55′26″N 4°07′37″W / 52.9239°N 4.1270°W / 52.9239; -4.1270Coordinates: 52°55′26″N 4°07′37″W / 52.9239°N 4.1270°W / 52.9239; -4.1270
Grid reference SH571384
Managed by Ffestiniog Railway
Owned by Festiniog Railway Company
Platforms 2
6 January 1865 Station opened
1923 Welsh Highland Railway services commence
1936 Welsh Highland Railway services cease
15 September 1939 Closed for passengers
23 July 1955 Reopened for passengers
19 February 2011 Reopened to Welsh Highland Railway services
Stations on heritage railways in the United Kingdom
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal
The front face of the station
A Ffestiniog Railway train at Porthmadog Harbour railway station
Construction of the WHR's Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL) outside the station, 2011

Porthmadog Harbour railway station in Porthmadog, North Wales, is the passenger terminus of two narrow gauge railways: the Ffestiniog Railway, which was built in 1836 to carry dressed slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog for export by sea; and the Welsh Highland Railway, incorporated in 1923, which ran to Dinas, after the rebuilding 1997-2011 the other terminus is at Caernarfon, in sight of the Castle.


The station is built at the western end of the Cob, the great embankment across the Traeth Mawr, on a peninsula from Ynys Madoc constructed in 1842 to form a slate wharf and a harbour wall. It was opened for passenger service on 6 January 1865. Welsh Highland Railway trains served the station from 1923, with a short period when all passenger traffic was diverted to Portmadog New station near the crossing with the Cambrian railway, the building long since demolished. The ill-funded WHR went bankrupt in 1936. Harbour station was closed to passengers on 15 September 1939, although slate trains continued operating through the Second World War until 1946. The buildings continued to be in use as the principal offices of the Festiniog Railway Company and the home of Manager (Mr Robert Evans) including throughout the years of almost total closure from 1 August 1946 to 24 September 1954. The station reopened for passengers on 23 July 1955.

Welsh Highland Railway[edit]

Since 2011, following completion of the Cross Town Rail Link (CTRL), the station is also the terminus of the Welsh Highland Railway, which is owned by the Festiniog Railway Company. This line runs trains, via the cross town link through Porthmadog, to Beddgelert, Rhyd Ddu, Waunfawr, Dinas and Caernarfon. The WHR was closed to all traffic in 1936 and the track lifted during the War, but has been entirely rebuilt and even extended. Starting from Caernarfon in 1997, the final section (from Pont Croesor) was physically connected in 2009 with regular passenger services resuming in 2011.


The present stone buildings, replacing earlier wooden buildings dismantled and reused elsewhere on the railway, date from 1878/79 and the goods shed was added in 1880. They were linked to the former goods shed by way of a major extension in 1975. Passenger facilities include a booking and enquiry office, a large tourist and hobby shop and a large cafeteria with licensed bar. The erection of the platform awning was completed in 1988.

Harbour Station is the head office and operational headquarters of the Festiniog Railway Company, marketed as Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.


With the resumption of services in 1955, all traffic on the line has been controlled from an office in Harbour station, known simply as "Control". With the exception of some early morning and late night movements by works trains, this office is manned constantly when passenger-carrying services are in operation. Its remit was expanded in 1997 with the commencement of public services on the Welsh Highland Railway between Caernarfon and Dinas and its subsequent expansion south towards Porthmadog. Additionally, for 2007 and 2008, when a connection was in use with the WHR(P), there was a requirement to coordinate with its operations on the new main line.

From 2011, with the WHR now connected to the station via the CTRL, a new short platform and point work was added to the eastward side of the existing platform structure/Spooners Bar. Too short to hold the longer WHR trains, WHR trains were hence scheduled to pull on to the cob and stop, and then a pilot locomotive was attached to the rear to drag the complete WHR train into the station. This operation was reversed on departure, and due to the need for both lines to use the cob and single platform, resulted in only one train operation in the station at any time. This arrangement was always seen as a temporary solution, until the funds could be found to rebuild the station.

Having foreseen and to address the above issue, the FR announced a proposed £1.3M rebuild of Harbour station, to provide two separate and individually controllable platforms, each with their own run around loops. The project took three years to complete, requiring physical extension of the cob structure into the Irish Sea, compacting, extension of the platform, and finally a shift westwards of the alignment of the existing single platform and FR storage loops and sidings. Completed in March 2014 within the projected cost,[1] as well as two platforms the project also delivered a new electronically controlled signal box and system with a distinct FR heritage appearance. The signalling work won the Signalling Award at the 2014 National Railway Heritage Awards.[2]


Preceding station Heritage Railways  Heritage railways Following station
Terminus   Ffestiniog Railway   Boston Lodge Halt
Pont Croesor   Welsh Highland Railway   Terminus

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith; Gray, Adrian; Seymour, Michael (1993). Branch Lines around Portmadoc 1923-46. West Sussex: Middleton Press. figs. 64-71. ISBN 9781873793138. OCLC 30306827. 
  • Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (1994). Branch Lines around Porthmadog 1954-94. West Sussex: Middleton Press. figs. 5-24. ISBN 9781873793312. OCLC 32132010. 
  • Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (1995). Porthmadog to Blaenau. West Sussex: Middleton Press. figs. 12-17. ISBN 9781873793503. OCLC 877269886. 

External links[edit]