The Trust commissioned JOP Consulting to conduct an Economic Impact Assessment into the effect that the construction of the extension of the railway to Bala Town would have on the local economy. The assessment, which used a year-long survey of the railway's passengers and a consultation evening with local business as its basis, reported in November 2016 and we are delighted to present its findings here. The key points are:
The Trust’s aims for the extension are:
The Red Dragon Project is estimated at a cost of £2.5million and the principal aim of the report is to ascertain if the economic benefit the extension would bring represents value-for-money. The methodology used to determine this was to establish the baseline contribution of the railway to the tourism offering in Bala (using a passenger survey, representing 343 visitors to the railway in 2016) and how constructing the extension would affect that contribution.
The main findings of the survey were:
The survey asked the respondents if the extension would impact on their frequency of visits (55% said it would) and their expenditure in the local area (the answers indicate an average increase of £23 per person per day). This information was used to quantify the effect on spending in the local area:
It is also worth noting that of the estimated £2.5million construction cost, it is anticipated (based on previous capital projects in Gwynedd) that 55% (or £1.375million) would be spent in the local area. Over the course of the anticipated one-year construction phase, 10 FTE jobs would be created, and a further 9 would be supported.
The construction of the extension will provide a 60% increase in the existing baseline contribution of the railway to the local economy (from £700,000 to £1.12million), which on a purely financial basis is an excellent return-on-investment, However, the benefit will be much more than just economic and enhance the appeal of the whole area by:
“Fantastic and overdue.”
“Accessibility is a major issue from the Bala side.”
“Lovely scenery to enter Bala.”
"It would encourage a full day instead of half a day in the area."
“Would add major activity with easy access from Bala.”
“Excellent and looking forward to arriving in Bala by train.”
“Good for the railway and Bala and is obviously a missing link.”
“Very good idea; preserved railways always bring money to the area.”
“The BLR is a great asset to the area but that there is an issue with no station in Bala itself – it is too far to walk because people are ‘lazy’”