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Lake railway to boost Bala tourism

Published date: 02 May 2014 |
Published by: Shane Brennan
Read more articles by Shane Brennan


 

THE railway could return to Bala after 50 years to boost the region’s tourism industry.

Plans are underway to extend the narrow gauge railway that runs from Llanuwchllyn along the shore of Llyn Tegid that is known as the Bala Lake Railway.

The last train out of Bala was in January 1965 after that the line and station was closed following recommendations in the Beeching report.

The Ddraig Goch project is a plan to improve tourist attractions in Bala to attract
more visitors to the area by investing in the railway.

It is proposed that the current railway be extended all the way to the town of Bala.
Other proposals include the building of a heritage centre in Llanuwchllyn and the replacement of rolling stock with more modern carriages.

Bala councillor, Dilwyn Morgan, spoke of his excitement for the project.

He said: “This is an exciting proposal for the town. It’s a great opportunity to get
people into the town but the people of Bala need to make their voices heard on this.

We really need to get them involved so their views can be listened to as this could be a big economic boost, not just to the town but Llanuwchllyn and the rest of Penllyn.”

The railway is a four and a half mile track established over 40 years ago.

It is one of only 13 narrow gauge railways in Wales but it is felt that it has lacked the popularity of the others due to its remote location and lack of historical integrity, according to a discussion document on the plan.

The railway attracts 20,000 visitors a year at the moment but there are hopes that this project will raise these significantly.

A director of the railway, Adrian Birley, said: “Bala railway is ripe for a concerted effort to get it into the centre of town to get more tourists into an area that has so many riches on it’s doorstep like the Snowdonia mountains.

“I am very keen to help raise the profile of the project and gain the support of the local people.

“This will be an economic enhancement for the communities around the lake. I want it to help Bala to grow economically as Llangollen railway is about to do for Corwen. We will be approaching several funding sources and I’m hoping for support from
Europe.

“The broad figures are an investment of £1m could see the line extended which could be paid off within three years of operation. The heritage centre would also cost about £1m.

“This can be a significant help to Bala economically. If we can’t get visitor numbers up to 50,000 a year within five years of the project I would be very disappointed.

“I want to make the railway a real jewel of the national park.”

The plans were also welcomed by Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP, Elfyn Llwyd.
He said: “This would be an excellent proposal for Bala, Llanuwchllyn and the whole district.

“I recall that there was a proposal to extend the line all the way to Bala some 30 years ago, and I hope that this time it will be successful.

“Undoubtedly it will be a huge draw to the area as far as tourism goes, and the railway would be used more often by locals as well I believe.
“I wish this project well and hope it succeeds.”

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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