The Trust has taken the first step in the construction of the extension of the Bala Lake Railway with the demolition of the derelict warehouse on Heol Aran. The site, where the new Bala Town station building is to be located, has been levelled and will initially be used for storage of materials for the extension, starting with a number of points that have been acquired from the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway.
Commented Trust chairman, Julian Birley:
The Extension has started! The Bala Lake Railway really does mean business.
The acquired site in the town has been cleared and levelled, and is now ready for the future construction of the new terminus.
Support from the town and members is incredible but we still need help, so please either donate through the website or join the Red Dragon Appeal.
The following pictures show the warehouse as it was, the demolition process, the cleared site, and the points being unloaded::
The Trust is pleased to annouce the launch of the Red Dragon Appeal, to help raise money for the Red Dragon Project, the Trust's flagship project to extend the Bala Lake Railway into the heart of the town of Bala. Supporters can make donations by monthly subscription, or as a one-off donation, and in return receive a package of exclusive benefits.
The Trust's chairman, Julian Birley, said:
The extension of the Bala Lake Railway into the town is going to be huge step change to the future success and sustainability of the railway. Never have I come across such local and political support for a railway project. It is ambitious and exciting, and I hope as many people as possible will take part in the incentive scheme and become part of our success.
The Trust is delighted to report that following discussions with Bala Rugby Club and a local farmer, an agreement in principle has been reached to purchase a strip of land along the very edge of the rugby field and a small piece of the adjacent field. With slight realignment of the intended route, this will put the extension within a very short distance of the proposed new town station.
Julian Birley, chairman of the Bala Lake Railway Trust, said:
We could not have asked for more support, it has been a delight to work with Bala Rugby Club and the neighbouring farmer. We regard ourselves as a community asset, and working with other parts of the community fulfils our absolute aims and objectives. However, there is still much to do, not least the application for the Transport and Works Act Order from Parliament. We look to continue to work with the local community to bring this project to a successful conclusion creating benefits for the local area.
A revised plan of the realigned route can be found on the Route page.
Following the acquisition of the site for the new station building in the town, the Trust is pleased to announce that the Snowdonia National Park planning department have granted planning permission for the demolition of the derelict warehouse in Aran Street, and the clearing and levelling of the site. This immediate improvement to the area will send out the clear message that it is not a case of if, but when, the railway will arrive in the town.
With support and belief in the project growing, fundraising is continuing apace and we urge as many people to join us to donate be part of the team that makes this happen.
Acquiring this second piece of land is a huge step towards the Trust's ambition of extending the railway as it means that we have now secured the site for the new station building, which crucially is next to a large public car park. The purchase has been made possible thanks to an incredibly generous single donation from a supporter of the Trust who sees the tremendous potential and value in the project. Once again, we are indebted to Lisa Williams for the huge amount of work she has undertaken on behalf of the Trust.
The diagram below shows the land that has been purchased:
The next stage is for the land to be registered and planning consent obtained to demolish the derelict garage. From there, the site can be cleared, levelled and landscaped, ready for when the rest of the trackbed has been acquired and construction can begin.
Following the exciting news about the purchase of the land for Bala Town station, there is further good news for the Red Dragon Project with the award of a Heritage Lottery grant, made to the Railway, of £38,500 to improve the carriage shed at Llanuwnchllyn. As well as larger and more secure accommodation for rolling stock, the extended building will provide a much improved visitor experience through disabled access and better interpretation of the heritage exhibits. A revised track layout that allows access from each end will also provide better operationally flexibility, particularly useful during the increasingly popular programme of galas events held each year.
Full details of the grant can be found on the Railway's website and Facebook page:
The Trust is thrilled to announce that yesterday (17th February 2017), the exchange of contracts took place for the first plot of land where the new Bala Town station is to be constructed. Commented the Trust's chairman, Julian Birley:
Securing the first piece of land for the new Bala Town station is a hugely significant step towards the construction of the extension of the Bala Lake Railway. The land has been paid for by the very generous donations of our supporters across the UK, showing how important the Red Dragon Project is and how it has captured people's imaginations. The Trust is indebted to the fantastic work of volunteer solicitor Lisa Williams who has been instrumental in the purchase.
The diagram below shows the land that has been purchased:
On Tuesday, 7th February, former Dinorwic Quarry Hunslet George B worked its first train in nearly 50 years during a David Williams photo charter. Thanks to the generousity of renowned railway photographer Malcolm Ranieri, we are delighted to present a selection of images from the event.
We are delighted to publish the findings of the Economic Impact Assessment Report that was conducted to determine the effect that the construction of the extension will have on the local economy. The report, conducted by JOP Consulting, is extremely positive and shows the significant additional benefit that the extension will bring to Bala and the surrounding area. A synopsis of the report can be found here.
The Trust's proposal to cross the River Dee on a tramway section using the existing B4403 road bridge featured in a prominent article in the main news section of issue 223 of Heritage Railway magazine, and we are delighted that the magazine has given us permission to make the full article available through our website.
We are extremely grateful to the publishers of Heritage Railway magazine for allowing us to reproduce the article on this website.
The Trust is pleased to announce the launch of a brand-new Facebook page. We'll be posting regular updates as the Red Dragon project progresses, so we hope you'll follow the page to receive the latest news.
The Trust's plans for the Red Dragon project have been featured in an article in the North Wales Daily Post, which can be found on their website:
The full text of Julian Birley's quote to the paper reads as follows:
Crossing the river is the biggest hurdle we encounter in extending the railway into the town of Bala. We have commissioned a highways agency to look at the possibility of doing what we want to do in the plan and this has now been done. Paid for by one of our supporters at a cost of £6,500 this report demonstrates that the proposal is viable to run the railway down the road as a tramway and with this in mind the agency are now consulting with the county’s highways department. By adopting this plan a million pounds will be saved in engineering works. There will be no need to encroach on to the Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and it will add a novelty to the route that has been met with great support by the local residents. By having the railway cross the bridge as a tramway it will also serve to slow the traffic down approaching the town.
A meeting with Natural Resources Wales is planned for 21st November when it will be discussed how best to build the railway along the northern end of the lake. This is important so as to still provide walkers and cyclists with their own route but also to visitors to see and appreciate one of the finest views from a train anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Money has now been raised to purchase the first piece of land which will provide space for the new platforms. Fund raising now commences to raise the £85,000 for the site of the station building itself opposite the car park in Aran Street. Please support us by donating through our website www.balalakerailwaytrust.org.uk.
We are pleased to announce that the Trust is now able to accept online donations through the MyDonate portal.
The Trust is pleased to publish revised plans for the route of the extension into Bala Town. Working in partnership with the Highways Agency, it is now planned that the railway will use a tramway section across the River Dee bridge (similar to that found on the Welsh Highland Railway across Britannia Bridge). The revised plans can be found on the route page.
In addition, the Trust has been engaging with the various stakeholders involved in the project. Commented Julian Birley, Chairman of the Trust:
One of the most important aspects of preparing for the extension of the railway into the town has been the Economic Impact Survey. During the season, our visitors have been surveyed and their responses are now being analysed. However, the views of local businesses are also of vital importance, and so invitations were sent out for a meeting with the Trust and market survey agency at Llanuwchllyn Station on 13th October.
We were delighted that nineteen businesses attended and a very useful meeting was conducted. Their response was extremely positive and it was very reassuring that the railway is regarded as the premier tourist attraction in the area. Once concluded I met with John Pritchard the surveyor who was very brief in his reaction saying: "It does not get any better than that."
With the surveys and meeting concluded, we await the completed report. In the meantime, we continue the detailed and complex discussions with Natural Resources Wales and the Highways Department.