Some Early Lines – Bala – Festiniog Railway

Bala – Festiniog Railway

The branch train for Bala Junction photographed in 1953.  H.C.Casserley

History – 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)  railway inNorth Wales which connected Bala with Blaenau Festiniog.

1882 saw the completion of the spectacular branch from Bala through the wild and mountainous region to Blaenau Festiniog, where it met with the LNWR and the narrow gauge Festiniog Railway.  This view of Bala Junction, one of those curiosities, of which there have been one or two other examples of in the British Isles, of a purely interchange station only, without road access, and to or from which one could not obtain a ticket.  H.C.Casserley

The railway originally connected Bala and Llan Festiniog and was incorporated on 28 July 1873, and opened on 1 November 1882.  In 1883 the line was extended by converting the existing Festiniog and Blaenau Railway between Llan Festiniog and Blaenau Festiniog 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 Festiniog (GWR) where until 1939 it connected with the Festiniog Railway to Porthmadog. At Bala Junction, the line connected with the Ruabon Barmouth GWR line. 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 Manod and Blaenau Festiniog where the wagons were off-loaded in the large station yard and their loads of dressed slate transferred to standard gauge GWR wagons for onward carriage via Manod and Bala.

Blaenau Festiniog –

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.

7442 rattles along near Glyndyfrdwy on a Ruabon – Bala train in June 1956.  J.B.Snell

The summit of the line was at Cwm Prysor which lay at 1,278 feet / 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.

5810 waiting with a train from Bala Junction in 1953.  H.C.Casserley

In 1964, a connection was made through Blaenau to the Conwy Valley Line at Blaenau Festiniog North allowing access as far as the nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd; a loading facility for nuclear flasks was constructed a hundred yards north of the closed Trawsfynydd Lake Halt.  In 1982, the Festiniog Railway was reopened to Blaenau Festiniog Central when the former GWR station was re-opened to passenger traffic and Blaenau Festiniog North (LNWR) was closed.

A view taken in 1953 near Trawsfynydd on the Bala – Festiniog branch, closed to passengers in 1960.  The upper section between Trawsfynydd and Blaenau Festiniog, however, remained open in consequence of the construction of an atomic power station, the waste spoil from which is conveyed by means of a new connection with the LNWR at Blaenau Festiniog away down that line’s branch via Llandudno Junction fro disposal.  H.C.Casserley

Current status

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 has remained in situ for several years. Much of the trackbed 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.

Shunting at Blaenau Ffestiniog in March 1954.  J.B.Snell


A morning train from Blaenau Festiniog to Bala nears Trawsffanaeth behind 0-6-0 pannier tank No. 7442 in July 1951.  P.B.Whitehouse

Heritage railway preservation attempts

Lately, there have so far been at least two attempts in preserving at least a few miles of remaining trackbed of the line, however the first two attempts did not succeed. There is still hope one day that some of it could be re-opened as a tourist attraction which would boost the local Welsh economy, once possible funds could be made officially and a perfect name is found.


 A 74XX 0-6-0 Pannier Tank enters Trawsffanaeth station with a mid-day train from Blaenau Festiniog to Bala in July 1951.  P.B.Whitehouse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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