PLANS to extend a railway and build a new station are firmly back on track.

Bala Lake Railway have submitted a revised planning application to Eryri National Park Authority (Snowdonia National Park) to extend the railway into the town.

The ambitious project will see the extension of Llyn Tegid narrow gauge railway, comprising of 1,200m of railway track, from Pen y Bont Station to a new terminus station within the town of Bala. A signal box will also be created as well as a coal bunker and locomotive shed. 

The railway currently carries 34,000 passengers on service running 173 a day. If the extension is given the green light, it is hoped this figure will increase to 60,000 passenger a year.

A Design and Access statement, prepared by Caulmert Limited, said: "Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake Railway) currently operates a 7.2km long, 600mm gauge heritage railway, which has run between Llanuwchllyn and Pen y Bont since 1976. The train journey gives excellent views of the lake and its surrounding scenery.

"Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid Ltd has a long-held ambition extend the line to a new terminus within the town of Bala.

"Land has been acquired on Heol Aran for the development of a station site; a strip of land has also been acquired from Bala Rugby Club to allow the station site to be accessed from the shore of the lake."

Natural Resources Wales has completed a safety project to improve the flood embankment facing the lake. 

Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid have also held discussions with the Highway Authority to establish how the railway can be carried over the River Dee, using the bridge at Pont Mwnwgl y Llyn and along the causeway which carries the B4391.

The statement said: The first 70 metres of the proposed railway extension route crosses the field to the south east of Lake Cottage in a shallow cutting, avoiding Pen y Bont Cottage and reaching the B4403.

"The railway will cross the B4403 by means of a level crossing and in this locality the carriageway of the B4403 will be raised by approximately 750m to accommodate the level crossing.

"The railway will cross the Grade II Listed Pont Mwnwgl-y-llyn (“Old Bridge”). This will require the bridge’s existing tarmac surface to be removed , a new waterproof layer installed, and surfaces reinstated thereafter.

"After crossing Pont Mwnwgl-y-llyn 'Old Bridge' the railway line continues northwards along the embankment to the B4391 and then crosses the Pont Mwnwgl-y-llyn 'New Bridge'. The railway then branches north westwards, running alongside Heol Tegid on the crest of the new flood embankment and reaching the Rugby Club car park.

"The railway line passes to the rear of the Rugby Clubhouse, before descending to existing ground level and running through the south western side of the Rugby Club playing fields. After passing through the north western boundary of the playing fields, twin railway tracks lead into the Station area, passing to the west of the signal box, coal bunker, three parking bays, service railway track, grasscrete vehicular access and residential properties on Ystad Cae Bach."


The statement added: "It is acknowledged that the movement of steam trains would be highly noticeable, however, the trains important heritage to this area means some beneficial effects would be expected, by strengthening Bala’s ‘sense of place’."

Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake Railway) Trust have been aiming to extend the track from its current station at Penybont for about 10 years. 

The project was put on the brakes in April 2023;  the main concern cited was the possibility of an increase in visitors to Bala which would overload the Bala Water Treatment Works resulting in an increase in the phosphates being discharged into the River Dee.

A statement from chairman Julian Birley in December said: "It was a blow to have our planning application refused, especially on some issues that were not directly related and beyond our influence and control.

"But every cloud has a silver lining and having dusted ourselves down and picked ourselves up the whole of the town of Bala got behind us."

In July 2023, the Bala treatment Works were granted a phosphate permit which determined the phosphate limit permitted for the town. Welsh Water have confirmed that the AMP (Asset Management Plan) scheme, due to complete by 2025, will provide the headroom for the additional phosphate loading from Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid's proposed development and still meet the limit.

Readers can visit to have their say on proposals.