The Ffestiniog Railway (Welsh: Rheilffordd Ffestiniog) is a 1 ft 11 1⁄2 in (597 mm) narrow gauge heritage railway, located in Gwynedd, Wales. It is a major tourist attraction located mainly within the Snowdonia National Park.
The railway is roughly 13 1⁄2 miles (21.7 km) long and runs from the harbour at Porthmadog to the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, travelling through forested and mountainous scenery. The line is single track throughout with four intermediate passing places. The first mile of the line out of Porthmadog runs atop an embankment locally called the Cob, which is the dyke of the Traeth Mawr "polder".
Traeth Mawr (Welsh for "big sands") is a polder near Porthmadog in Gwynedd in Wales. The area was formerly the large tidal estuary of the Afon Glaslyn. It was created after large-scale land reclamation occurred in the late 18th century and the early 19th century. A large embankment runs across the edge of the area separating it from the sea; it is named the Cob and carries a road and railway line.
The Festiniog Railway Company which owns the railway is the oldest surviving railway company in the world. It also owns the Welsh Highland Railway which was re-opened fully in 2011. The two railways share the same track gauge and meet at Porthmadog station, with some trains working the entire 40 mile route from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Caernarfon.
The railway company is properly known as the "Festiniog Railway Company" as this otherwise obsolete spelling (with F rather than Ff) is in the official title of the company in the Act (2 William IV cap. 48) that created the railway. It is the oldest surviving railway company in the world (although not the oldest working railway – a record which goes to the Middleton Railway, in West Yorkshire), having been founded by the Act of Parliament on 23 May 1832 with capital mostly raised in Dublin by Henry Archer, the company's first secretary and managing director. Most British railways were amalgamated into four large groups in 1921 and then into British Railways in 1948 but the Festiniog Railway Company, like most narrow-gauge railways, remained independent. In 1921, this was due to political influence, whereas in 1947 it was left out of British Railways because it was closed for traffic, despite vigorous local lobbying for it to be included.
Various important developments in the Railway's early history were celebrated by the firing of rock cannon at various points along the line. Cannon were fired, for instance, to mark the laying of the first stone at Creuau in 1833, the railway's opening in 1836, and the opening of the Moelwyn Tunnel in 1842. The passing of a later Act for the railway also saw cannon celebrations, but on this occasion a fitter at Boston Lodge, who was assisting with firing, lost the fingers of one hand in an accident.
The line was constructed between 1833 and 1836 to transport slate from the quarries around the inland town of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the coastal town of Porthmadog where it was loaded onto ships. The railway was graded so that loaded wagons could be run by gravity downhill all the way from Blaenau Ffestiniog to the port. The empty wagons were hauled back up by horses, which travelled down in special 'dandy' wagons. To achieve this continuous grade (about 1 in 80 for much of the way), the line followed natural contours and employed cuttings and embankments built of stone and slate blocks without mortar. Prior to the completion in 1842 of a long tunnel through a spur in the Moelwyn Mountain, the slate trains were worked over the top via inclines (designed by Robert Stephenson), the site of which can still be seen but there are few visible remnants.
Up to six trains daily were operated in each direction and a printed timetable was published on 16 September 1856 by Charles Easton Spooner who, following his father, served as Manager and Clerk for 30 years. It shows departures from the Quarry Terminus (later referred to as Dinas, sometimes as Rhiwbryfdir or Rhiw) at 7:30, 9:28, 11:16, 1:14, 3:12 and 5:10. Trains waited ten minutes at the intermediate stations called Tunnel Halt, Hafod y Llyn and Rhiw Goch. The fastest journey time from Quarry Terminus to Boston Lodge was 1 hour 32 minutes, including three stops. From Boston Lodge, the slate wagons were hauled to and from Porthmadog harbour by horses.
Up trains took nearly six hours from Boston Lodge to the Quarry Terminus and each train ran in up to four sections, each hauled by a horse and comprising eight empty slate wagons plus a horse dandy. This timetable gave a maximum annual capacity of 70,000 tons of dressed slate. Two brakesmen travelled on each down train, controlling the speed by the application of brakes as needed. At passing loops, trains passed on the right and this continues to be a feature of Ffestiniog Railway operation.
There is evidence for tourist passengers being carried as early as 1850 without the blessing of the Board of Trade, but these journeys would also observe the timetable. Hafod y Llyn was replaced by Tan y Bwlch around 1872. Dinas (Rhiw) Station and much of that branch is now all but buried under slate waste; the rest of the Dinas branch line was removed about 1954–55. Occasional confusion arises because places named Hafod y Llyn Isaf and Dinas also exist on the Welsh Highland Railway, albeit 10 miles (16 km) or more to the northwest of those on the FR.
The railway employed just one police officer. Board of Trade returns for 1884 show a police inspector was based at the company's head office. In more recent times the British Transport Police made friendly overtures and were politely informed that the FR had powers to swear its own constables.
During the late 1850s it became clear that the line was reaching its operational capacity, while the output of the Blaenau Ffestiniog slate quarries continued to rise. In 1860, the board of the company began to investigate the possibility of introducing steam locomotives to increase the carrying capacity of the railway. Although narrow gauge steam locomotives had been tried before this, very few had been built to so narrow a gauge. In 1862 the company advertised for manufacturers to tender to build the line's first locomotives. In February 1863, the bid of George England and Co. was accepted and production of the first locomotives was begun.
The first of these locomotives, Mountaineer' was delivered to Porthmadog on 18th. July 1863, followed a few days later by The Princess. After a number of trials and some modifications (notably the addition of domes) to the locomotive, the first official train ran on 23 October 1863. These steam locomotives of the 0-4-0 type allowed much longer slate trains to be run and this also enabled the official introduction of passenger trains in 1865: the Ffestiniog was the first narrow gauge railway in Britain to carry passengers. In 1869, the line's first double Fairlie articulated locomotive was introduced and these double-ended machines have since become one of the most widely recognised features of the railway.
Down trains continued to run entirely by gravity but faster up journeys and longer trains increased line capacity. A new timetable dated October 1863 shows six departures daily from each terminus at two-hour intervals, starting at 7:00 am and taking 1 hour 50 minutes including stops (totalling 20 minutes) at Tanygrisiau, Hafod-y-Llyn and Penrhyn. Trains passed only at Hafod-y-Llyn (from 1872 Tan-y-Bwlch).
When passenger services started, the usual practice was for locomotive-hauled up trains to consist of loaded general goods and mineral wagons, followed by passenger carriages, followed by empty slate wagons with brakesmen. Down trains were run in up to four separate (uncoupled) portions: loaded slate wagons, goods wagons, passenger carriages and the locomotive running light. This unusual and labour-intensive method of operation was highly dangerous, at least as far as passengers were concerned; consequently, the down passenger and goods portions were combined into a single train headed by the locomotive.
The loaded slate trains continued to operate by gravity until the end of passenger services in 1939. Slate trains eventually became very long – trains of less than eighty slate wagons carried two brakesmen but over eighty wagons (and this became common) required three brakesmen. About one wagon in every six was equipped with a brake, the others being unbraked.
Trains continued to pass at Tan-y-Bwlch and, to a lesser extent, at Minffordd. The Summer timetable for 1900 had nine trains daily in each direction and trains had been accelerated to one hour from Porthmadog to Duffws including stops at Minffordd, Penrhyn, Tan-y-Bwlch, Dduallt (request), Tanygrisiau, Blaenau (LNWR) and Blaenau (GWR). Speeds in excess of 40 mph (64 km/h) were then normal.
The original passenger coaches (some of which survive) were small four-wheeled vehicles with a very low centre of gravity, which led to them being nicknamed 'bug boxes'. In 1872, the FR introduced the first bogie carriages to operate in Britain, Numbers 15 and 16, which were also the first iron-framed bogie coaches in the world and are still in service. The continuous vacuum brake was installed in 1893. The line was fully signalled with electric telegraph and staff and ticket working. Electric Train Staff instruments were introduced in 1912 and they continue in use to the present day.
By the 1920s, the demand for slate as a roofing material dropped owing to the advent of newer materials and to the loss of the overseas trade during World War I. As a result, the railway suffered a gradual decline in traffic.
In 1921, the Aluminium Corporation at Dolgarrog in the Conwy Valley bought for £40,000, a controlling interest in the FR and Henry Jack became Chairman, the FR company's financial administration moving to Dolgarrog. Jack was also chairman of the new Welsh Highland Railway. He was instrumental in getting government backing for its completion on the understanding that the FR and the WHR would be jointly managed from Porthmadog, with maintenance undertaken at Boston Lodge and with other economies of scale. In 1923, the FR line was joined to the WHR line at a station called "Portmadoc New". The Welsh Highland line was almost totally dependent on tourism, but this proved slow to develop for several reasons: two slumps in the early 1920s and early 1930s; the rise of road traffic including charabancs; and the unreliability of the railway with its (even then) ancient carriages and increasingly decrepit locomotives.
Light railway operation was being introduced on the FR and WHR to cut operating overheads. In 1923, to gain additional expertise in this, Colonel H. F. Stephens was appointed as part-time engineer to both companies. Stephens became Chairman and Managing Director of both companies in 1924. When the WHR was taken into receivership in 1927, Colonel Stephens was appointed as Receiver for the WHR and financial administration of both companies moved to Tonbridge in Kent. The fortunes of the WHR, despite great efforts, failed to improve and it became bankrupt in 1933. To protect their investments, the joint owners of both companies arranged for the WHR to be leased by the FR. However the WHR losses continued with the loss of the Moel Tryfan slate traffic in 1935, and it closed to passengers at the end of the 1936 season and to goods in 1937.
The FR continued to operate its slate traffic, a workmen's train on weekdays throughout the year and a summer tourist passenger service. Ordinary passenger services ceased on the FR on 15 September 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II. The workmen's passenger service ran for the last time on Saturday, 16 September 1939.
Slate trains were from then onwards operated three days each week but gravity operation was discontinued. Slate traffic ceased on 1 August 1946, apart from the section from Duffws to the North Western yard through Blaenau Ffestiniog town centre, which was leased on 7 October 1946 to the quarry owners. This provided the railway company, which retained the services of a resident manager at Porthmadog, with a small income throughout the moribund years.
The original Act of Parliament which permitted the building of the line made no specific provision for its closure or abandonment. Although the main line had ceased functioning, the company could not dismantle the railway, so the track and infrastructure were left in place. An amending Act of Parliament could have been sought to repeal the old one, but the Company did not have the money. However, without maintenance, the line soon became overgrown and unusable.
From 1949, various groups of rail enthusiasts attempted to revitalise the railway. In 1951, railway enthusiast Alan Pegler was approached by friends to buy and clear the outstanding debt on the derelict Ffestiniog Railway, to enable its purchase. Lent £3,000 by his father, he and the volunteers obtained control of the company on 24 June 1954. Pegler was appointed the new company's first Chairman, with the objective to operate the railway as a tourist attraction and gradually restore the line to working order. Pegler later released complete control of the company without any personal financial gain to Ffestiniog Railway Trust, which still owns and runs the railway today.
The restoration of the complete railway was not helped by the decision by the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB) in 1954 to build the Ffestiniog Pumped Storage Scheme, including the creation of Tanygrisiau reservoir (Llyn Ystradau), which flooded part of the northern end of the line. The Festiniog Railway Company was able to obtain compensation in 1972, after the second-longest legal battle in British legal history, having taken eighteen years and two months. Two years later, as a result of the case, the British Parliament passed the Land Compensation Act 1973.
On 18 August 1954, prior to commencing the restoration, in an inspection, the first of many, Colonel McMullen of the Ministry of Transport, Railways Inspectorate, accompanied by Pegler, several directors and other supporters, walked the line from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog.
The work of restoration began on 20 September 1954 when Morris Jones, the foreman fitter who had last worked for the railway in March 1947, rejoined the staff to complete the rebuilding of the locomotive 'Prince' on which he had been engaged when the works closed. He was joined at Boston Lodge works by two volunteers, Bill Harvey and Allan Garraway. The completion of sixty years service with the FR by Robert Evans (for almost 25 years as Manager) was marked on 6 November 1954 and a special train was run (with difficulty) from Minffordd to Porthmadog to celebrate the occasion and convey Mr Evans, his wife, Alan Pegler (Company Chairman) and guests en route to a clock presentation ceremony. Mr Evans continued in service as Manager until his retirement on 1 June 1955 when Allan Garraway was appointed as Manager.
The first public passenger train from Porthmadog to Boston Lodge ran on 23 July 1955. Prince returned to service on 3 August 1955 and, following extensive boiler repairs, Taliesin, then the latest of the FR Fairlie articulated engines, returned to service on 4 September 1956. The passenger service was extended to Minffordd on 19 May 1956, to Penrhyn on 5 June 1957 and to Tan-y-Bwlch on 5 April 1958.
Increasing traffic was putting severe demands on the track – over 7 miles (11 km) had been reopened in four years. A long period of consolidation, rolling stock restoration and track renewal followed before the extension to Dduallt on 6 April 1968. Extension to Dduallt was celebrated on 28 May 1968 by the re-introduction of the Ffestiniog Railway Letter Service.
Between 1965 and 1978, the Ffestiniog Railway Deviation, a 2 1⁄2-mile (4 km) long diversionary route, was constructed between Dduallt and Tanygrisiau in order to avoid the Ffestiniog hydro-electric power station and its reservoir (Llyn Ystradau). The Deviation (this is the conventional name for such railway works) was built mostly by volunteers. At the southern end is the spectacular Dduallt spiral formation (unique on a public railway in the United Kingdom).
Including a bridge, it was constructed entirely by volunteers, and gains an initial height rise of 35 feet (10.7 m) in order (after a further one mile (1.6 km) of new volunteer-built railway and a new tunnel) to clear the flooded track bed north of the former Moelwyn tunnel, which is plugged near its usually-submerged northern end. Between Dduallt and the old tunnel, parts of the old railway formation can be clearly seen below the new route.
The new 310-yard (280 m) tunnel was constructed between 1975 and 1977 by three Cornish tin mining engineers with a small team of employees. It had to be blasted through a granite spur of the Moelwyn mountain. The tunnel plant included stone crushing and grading equipment, which produced track ballast and other aggregates from the spoil for use on the railway. Before it opened to rail traffic, the new tunnel had to be lined throughout its length with liquid cement reinforced with steel mesh in a process called 'shotcreting'.
From 26 May 1975, and over two summers, a pull and push service, officially called The Shuttle, powered by diesel locomotive Moel Hebog with carriage 110, was operated from Dduallt to Gelliwiog, to enable tourists to experience the Deviation route before the new Moelwyn Tunnel was opened.
North of the new tunnel is a long stretch of track along the west bank of the new reservoir. On 25 June 1977, full-length passenger trains first ran from Dduallt through the new tunnel to a now-dismantled temporary terminus known as 'Llyn Ystradau'. That station was alongside the Tanygrisiau reservoir but, because it was on Central Electricity Generating Board land without public access, passengers could not leave the station other than by train.
The remaining section included some specialised engineering work at its summit (668 feet (204 m)) where the new line passes over the power station pipelines. This was followed by two public road crossings with automatic signalling, on the FR's only reverse or down gradient, to rejoin the old route in Tanygrisiau station (640 feet (195 m)), which was reopened on 24 June 1978.
The largely volunteer group building the Deviation was officially called the Civil Engineering Group, but its members were popularly known (and are still remembered) as the Deviationists, who completed an enormous task over 13 years.
At Porthmadog, the original line came via the streets and across the Britannia bridge from the 1836 terminus at the northernmost end of the Welsh Slate Company's Wharf where the FR officially started. This was the second datum point for all pre-1954 mileage calculations. (the first being in Blaenau Ffestiniog). The line over the bridge also connected with the Gorseddau and Croesor Tramways and was later used by Welsh Highland Railway passenger trains from 1923 to 1936. The line over the bridge was last used in 1958 and then dismantled. It was reopened as part of the WHR in 2011.
Between Porthmadog Harbour station and Boston Lodge, the railway runs on the Cob, the dyke of the Traeth Mawr "polder". The Cob was built between 1807 and 1811 by William Madocks and, in addition to its land reclamation function in conjunction with sluice gates at the Britannia bridge, it serves also as a roadway (which, since 1836, has been at a lower level on the landward side) and as a bridge across the Afon Glaslyn. Tolls were charged with a tollgate at Boston Lodge until 2003, when the rights were purchased by the National Assembly for Wales. The higher, original, section of the Cob carries, in addition to the railway, a public footpath throughout virtually its entire length. There is no fencing between the footpath and the railway, because the Railway does not own the top of the Cob, but uses a wayleave under an Act of 1821.
Porthmadog Harbour; Open 1865; currently open; distance 0; Junction with the original line from across the Britannia bridge to Welsh Slate Co. wharf. Junction with the Welsh Highland Railway 1923-1936 and from 2011.
Pen Cob Halt; Open 1956; Closed 1967; distance 70 chains (1.41 km); Opened 19 May 1956 used regularly only until 5 November 1957.
Boston Lodge; Open 1928; Currently Open; distance 1 mile 5 chains (1.71 km); Temporary terminus 23 July 1955 to end of 1955 season. Used as required mainly by staff.
Minffordd (near Portmeirion); Open 1872; Currently Open; distance 2 miles 5 chains (3.32 km); Joint station with the Cambrian Line. Temporary FR terminus 19 May 1956 to end of 1956 season.
Cae Ednyfed Minffordd (near Portmeirion); Open 1836; Closed 1863; distance 2 miles 7 chains (3.36 km)? There were stables here between 1836 and 1863 and this was a horse stage station.
Pen y Bryn Halt, Penrhyndeudraeth; Open 1957; Closed 1957; distance 2 miles 63 chains (4.49 km); Opened 20 April 1957 used regularly only until 5 November 1957.
Penrhyn, Penrhyndeudraeth; Open 1865; currently open; distance 3 miles 8 chains (4.99 km); Temporary terminus 20 April 1957 to 5 November 1957.
Rhiw Goch (Passing Loop), Penrhyndeudraeth; Open 1836; currently open; distance 4 miles 16 chains (6.76 km); Passing loop for horse-drawn trains until 1863. Re-instated in 1975.
Plas (private) Station, Tan-y-Bwlch; open 1865; closed 1920; distance 6 miles 2 chains (9.70 km); Used only by the Oakeley household at Plas Tan y Bwlch.
Plas Halt, Tan-y-Bwlch; open 1963; currently open; distance 6 miles 19 chains (10.04 km); Opened 31 May 1963.
Hafod y Llyn, Tan-y-Bwlch; open 1836; closed 1873; distance Approx. 7 miles 5 chains (11.37 km); Used for passing slate trains until 1865 and as passenger station 1865 to 1873.
Tan-y-Bwlch; Open 1873; Currently Open; distance 7 miles 35 chains (11.97 km); Temporary terminus 5 April 1958 to 5 April 1968.
Coed y Bleiddiau; Open 1865?; Currently Open; distance Approx. 8 miles 40 chains (13.68 km); Private platform serving Coed y Bleiddiau cottage which is only accessible by rail or footpath.
Campbell's Platform Y Dduallt; Open 1968; Currently Open; distance 9 miles 7 chains (14.62 km); Private halt serving Plas y Dduallt, a 15th-century Welsh Manor House.
Dduallt; Open 1880?; Currently Open; distance 9 miles 44 chains (15.37 km); Temporary terminus 6 April 1968 to 24 June 1977.
Tunnel South loop, Moelwyn Mawr; Open 1842; closed c1865; distance Approx. 10 miles (16.09 km) (on former track alignment); Used for passing horse drawn trains and early steam trains.
Tunnel Halt, Moelwyn Mawr; Open 1920s?; Closed 1939; distance 10 miles 60 chains (17.30 km) (on former track alignment); At the northern end of the old Moelwyn tunnel.
Gelliwiog, Moel Dduallt; open 1975; closed 1977; distance 10 miles 32 chains (16.74 km); Temporary terminus of push-pull shuttle trains from Dduallt 26 May 1975 to 24 June 1977.
Llyn Ystradau, Tanygrisiau reservoir; open 1977; closed 1978; distance Approx. 11 miles 30 chains (18.31 km); Temporary terminus 25 June 1977 to 23 June 1978.
Tanygrisiau; open 1866; currently open; distance 12 miles 10 chains (19.51 km); Temporary terminus 24 June 1978 to 24 May 1982. Now used as a passing place.
Dinas, Blaenau Ffestiniog; Open 1865; Closed 1870; distance 13 miles 30 chains (21.52 km) (on branch from current line); The original northern terminus, opened 6 January 1865. From the opening of Duffws in 1866 until the closure of Dinas in 1870, alternate trains ran along the Dinas and Duffws branches.
Blaenau Festiniog Junction/Stesion Fein Blaenau Ffestiniog; Open 1881; Closed 1939; distance 13 miles 25 chains (21.42 km); ‘Stesion Fein’ (narrow station).Interchange station with LNWR (Conwy Valley Line). Terminus from 31 May 1931 until 1939.
Blaenau Festiniog (GWR); Open 1883; Closed 1939; distance 13 miles 50 chains (21.93 km); Interchange station with GWR line to Bala
Blaenau Ffestiniog; Open 1982; Currently Open; distance 13 miles 50 chains (21.93 km); Current terminus; joint station with British Rail (Conwy Valley Line) opened 25 May 1982; roughly on site of Blaenau Ffestiniog (GWR) station.
Duffws, Blaenau Ffestiniog; Open 1866; Closed 1931; distance 13 miles 60 chains (22.13 km) (on a different alignment); Only alternate trains ran to Duffws until 1870 when Dinas was closed to passengers. Terminus until 1931.
For a comprehensive list of the rolling stock and the locomotives on the Ffestiniog Railway, please click here.
As the line was extended, passing loops were brought into operation at Minffordd, Penrhyn and Tan-y-Bwlch. Due to the restrictions to the length of trains that could be passed at Penrhyn, Rhiw Goch was opened on 14 May 1975. Penrhyn loop remained in service for several more years before it was closed. By the end of the 1970s, the passing loops were at Minffordd, Rhiw Goch, Tan-y-Bwlch and Dduallt, and an intensive service was run in the peak summer seasons (although there were empty "slots" in the timetable which could be used by works trains). From the early 1980s, the peak summer timetable had three train sets in operation, generally passing at Rhiw Goch and Dduallt.
Automatic signalling was installed at Tan-y-Bwlch in 1986. By the 1988 season, in part due to the challenges in maintenance of the top end points at Dduallt and the planned automation of Minffordd, the loops at Dduallt and Rhiw Goch had been taken out of service for crossing trains. At the end of May 1988, Dduallt ceased to be a token station and Dduallt loop was taken out of service altogether and became a siding. Rhiw Goch ceased to be used except on odd occasions and was taken out of use as a means to cross passenger trains in 1989. The short section token instruments and the signal heads were removed, although the loop could still be used as a refuge for Engineers' trains. Minffordd and Tan-y-Bwlch therefore became the usual passing loops, both automated.
In the late 1990s, Rhiw Goch was recommissioned as a passing loop. From the 2005 season, the box has been regularly manned during the summer to provide additional operational flexibility. In 2006, an appeal was launched, through the FR Society, for funds to replace the life-expired signal box with a building of more traditional appearance. Fundraising went well and work was completed during the closed season of 2006/7.
Elsewhere, Tanygrisiau had been provided with a run-round loop whilst it had been the terminus between June 1978 and May 1982. This loop was removed when the line was reopened to Blaenau Ffestiniog. In the mid-1990s, a project was launched to install a fully signalled passing loop. This proceeded as a volunteer project, including the building of a signal box. However, prior to commissioning, the project was abandoned in 2001. The trackwork (apart for the siding off the Up Loop) remained in situ.
In June 2002, the loop was once again used to run trains around as part of the 2002 Gala to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the restoration of services to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The intended platform starter signals (posts, brackets and arms) have been recovered and some are now in use on the Isle of Man Railway, whilst others are destined for the resignalling of Harbour Station. In 2004, with new disc starter signals and spring-loaded points installed, Tanygrisiau became a passing loop for the first time.
The Ffestiniog railway has "lovely scenery, yes, but for the visually impaired there are also the sounds, the heat and - possibly best of all - the smell."
Parking is available in Porthmadog Harbour Station where they have a £2.00 all day car park. If it is full they have a Car Park Host who will direct you to their overflow Car Park which is also £2.00 all day. They have small free car parks at Minffordd, Tan y Bwlch, Tanygrisau and Dinas. There are no parking facilities at their other stations but nearby public parking is available.
Dogs are welcome in the 3rd Class portions of the trains. A standard fare of £3.00 per dog applies. They regret that dogs (except assistance dogs) are not allowed in 1st class. Guide/Assistance dogs travel free of charge and are welcome in all their station buildings and carriages.
There is a toilet on each of their regular service trains. These can be accessed by most of the train by walking through the carriages. Due to this being a narrow gauge railway, the toilets are 'narrow gauge' too. their station toilets, however, are full sized and far more salubrious, so please make use of the facilities before you travel. There are accessible toilets and baby changing facilities at all their main stations
When first introduced in the 19th century most UK trains had three classes of accommodation. In the late Victorian period sales of 2nd class tickets were significantly reduced, partly by the government putting a fixed rate on 3rd class fares even though much of the 3rd class accommodation had been improved to encourage passengers. Railway companies then began to remove 2nd class carriages from their trains.
The Ffestiniog Railway has some 2nd class accommodation, limited to a few compartments on heritage carriages. Records show that the 2nd class accommodation was being downgraded to 3rd class by 1887. However in recent restorations a number of their original carriages have been returned to their 'as new' arrangement meaning you may be able to travel in a second class compartment today. As they don't have any 2nd class fares any more, both 1st and 3rd class tickets are valid in these compartments.
Although they operate a fleet of historic carriages, all of their normal service trains have space available for customers with mobility impairments including some wheelchair spaces. A step and wheelchair ramp are carried on all normal trains and these are available to help you to access the trains - please ask a member of staff.
As space is inevitably limited, they strongly recommend that wheelchair users contact them in advance in order that they can make suitable arrangements. This will help them to make your visit a pleasurable one. For those unable to transfer to a carriage seat, it is possible to book a wheelchair designated space, subject to availability and if booked before the day of travel. This service is only available to those joining at Porthmadog, Caernarfon or Blaenau Ffestiniog. Most wheelchairs that are of a width 24" or less may be accommodated in the trains. Travellers with larger chairs should state this when booking.
All children under 3 travel FREE. All children 3 years and over require a ticket. One child under 16 years travels FREE with each adult or concession paying ordinary 3rd class fare. Additional children travel at half fare. A flate rate first class supplement applies. Concession fares are available to customers aged 65 and over, students and disabled customers. Travel in a Ffestiniog Railway Observation carriage for an additional charge of £7.00 each way per seat
Location : Harbour Station, Porthmadog, Gwynedd LL49 9NF
Transport : Porthmadog (National Rail) then 18 minutes OR Blaenau Ffestiniog (National Rail). Bus Routes : 1B, 1S, 2, 9B, 38 and T2 stop outside.
Opening Times : Click here for full timetable.
Tickets : All Day Rover - Adults £24.00; Concessions £21.60.
Tickets : Single - Adults £16.10; Concessions £14.50.
Tickets : For all other ticket variations please click here.
Tel : 01766 516024