The Bala Lake Railway is exceeding growth expectations and showing a sustainable increase of:
The little railway with the big ideas!
The current Bala Lake Railway is built on a section of the former standard gauge GWR Ruabon - Barmouth Junction route and opened in August 1868. The line joined the Corwen & Bala Railway at Bala Junction, and with the Cambrian Railways at Dolgellau. The line was operated by the Great Western (GWR), which later absorbed it in 1877. In 1896, the GWR enlarged Llanuwchllyn station, with an extended building and a new signal box. A long passing loop and second platform were also added.
The Beeching cuts determined that passenger services through Bala ceased on Monday 18th January 1965, and the line from Llangollen to Barmouth was closed. From that time, the line was gradually run down and other facilities rationalised. Goods traffic finally ceased on the 1st January 1968, when the Pontcysyllte branch was closed. However, through rail services had effectively ceased in December 1964 when the last Mail Train from Chester used the line.
The rebirth of the line as a narrow gauge railway came when a local engineer, George Barnes, with the help of the late Tom Jones CBE, then Chairman of Merioneth County Council's Finance Committee, saw the potential of the lakeside section for both local and tourist traffic. The new company, Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid Ltd (Bala Lake Railway Ltd) became the first company to be registered in the Welsh language, with operations beginning in 1972.
Enlisting help from local ex-BR staff, they started to rebuild the railway as a 2ft gauge line. This was to utilise the mass of equipment that had become available from numerous slate quarries in North Wales that had abandoned steam and railway operations in favour of machines and road transport. The first train consisted of two specially made open carriages and a small industrial diesel. From these humble beginnings, the line and rolling stock collection grew to the railway being the proud custodians of the largest collection of original Quarry Hunslet locomotives built for the slate industry of North Wales. Construction of the Bala Town extension will complete George's vision for the railway.