The Bala Lake Railway has taken its first step to extending the line into the town after exchanging contracts on the land they hope to build the town's station on.

The railway's next step will be to buy land for a warehouse, something chairman Julian Birley says could be just around the corner.

Mr Birley also believes 2017 will prove key if the railway wants to be able to take passengers from the town around the lake by 2020.

“This year is going to be a pivotal year as far as the project is concerned and already in the early part of the year we're demonstrating it's off to a great start,” he said.

“We exchanged contracts on the plot for the station last week. It's been paid for by donations from across the UK from people who've read and heard about the project and think it'll be huge for the railway as well as the town.

“We're all really excited and it demonstrates to the local authority and to Natural Resources Wales, both of whom have been very supportive, that we have some real traction in getting this done. It's all very exciting.

“We have to get the warehouse next and we're well on the way to that. We're hoping to raise the money and exchange the contracts for the warehouse in two-to-three months so we can landscape the plot in preparation.

“We'll also be able to demonstrate the level of improvement it will be to that end of the town.”

Mr Birley says he's been “eating, drinking and sleeping” the Bala Railway project over the past few months.

He also revealed that the railway has managed to bring the overall costs of the extension project down by £500,000, around 20 per cent of the initial projected costs.

The train currently depart from Llanuwchllyn, but the railway's plan is to have the train departing from Bala town centre by 2020.

“The estimated costs have come down significantly by having a traffic survey taken out and paid for by a supporter from the south of England,” he continued.

“The survey demonstrates there's a route across the bridge where road and rail traffic can co-exist without any safety problems.

“We're trying to work with the highways department of the county council to stress test which is going to be the most viable route.

“We have another consultant company which worked on the Snowdonia Railway to help us as well. They have a proven track record in this.

“We're still some way off completion but this year we'll demonstrate that it's a tangible project."