A heritage railway is set to be extended to within 80 yards of Bala town centre as it celebrates record-breaking visitor numbers for the year.

The Bala Lake Railway’s purchase of land from the local rugby club will enable its track to be laid to within a short-sprint distance of the town, from a starting point of 1,200 yards.

Julian Birley, chairman of the narrow gauge railway, said: “We’ve come to an agreement with Bala Rugby Club to buy some land from them.

“We now have planning permission to demolish what is currently where we’ll be building the station.

“We’ll be taking that down and landscaping it all before Christmas.

“We’re in the throes of discussing with the rugby club about how it’s going to run down the edge of the pitch

“We’ve been having on-going discussions with Natural Resources Wales about how we proceed.”

The project to extend the railway is projected to be worth £1.5 million to Bala High Street with a projected 60,000 visitors each year.

Mr Birley continued: “To get from the town to the shore, we’re now 80 yards short.

“We’ve had support from all around the UK and word is getting round I hope.

“We’ve had another record year. Passenger numbers are up again and we’re now quietening down for the winter for maintenance.

“We’ve also had a Heritage Lottery grant for an exhibition space in Llanuwchllyn for some of our rolling stock which will provide another attraction for visitors.”

Chairman of Bala Rugby Club Tony Parry said: “We’ve had a few meetings with the Bala Lake Railway Trust, Julian and the engineer, David Jones, and we’ve given them a letter of intent to work with them on this.

“I’m hoping it’ll be good for the town and the fact it’ll run alongside our rugby field.

“It’s taking up some land we could use but also some we couldn’t so it’s a good deal for the club and for the railway as well.”