10th February 2020
On Saturday night, the Heritage Railways Association held its annual awards dinner in Birmingham. It is the Oscars for the heritage railway movement.
Despite some stiff opposition such as The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden and the Bluebell Railway in Sussex, we are delighted to announce that the railway won the award for the Most Outstanding Visitor Attraction in recognition of the opening of the new Heritage Centre at Llanuwchllyn. The centre, made possible by a Heritage Lottery Grant, protects and displays artefacts relevant to the slate industry of north Wales. This includes not only locomotives but less obvious items such as a variety of waggons, tools, signs and a demonstration of the different types of rail that have been used over the years. This all goes towards telling the story of how important the slate industry was to the region. The centre is open every day that trains run on the railway and has proved very popular with visitors to the line.
The Trust sends its warmest congratulations to the team from the railway whose hard work has been so deservedly recognised.
28th October 2019
We are very pleased to announce that the Trust has completed the purchase from Bala Rugby Club of the next section of land that will form the trackbed of the extension of the railway to the new Bala Town Station. The Rugby Club has been extremely supportive of the plan to extend the railway and this is a great example of two local organisations working together.
We are absolutely delighted with this acquisition as it is another great step forward in extending the railway. It is also very gratifying to think that the money for this land has come from funds raised from all over the UK and this has now gone into a local community asset. The Bala Rugby Club have been fantastic with their help and support and it is great to see the community benefit.
Tony Parry, Chairman of the Bala Rugby Club, said:
We were very happy to support and help the Bala Lake Railway as it will be of benefit to the whole town. It is great to have two local organisations working so well together.
Work now continues behind the scenes towards submitting the planning application to the National Park Authority by the end of January.
Finally, we are very grateful to Heritage Railway magazine for supplying the following excerpts of their recent coverage of the Trust's work.
2nd October 2o19
A huge amount of work continues behind the scenes. The Trust has been in extensive consultations with the Highways Agency and National Park Authority in relation to the extension, and we continue to work closely with Natural Resources Wales in scoping the scheme to upgrade the flood defences that will also provide us with a formation for approximately one third of the route.
We are therefore pleased to announce that Dave High has been appointed to work on the planning application for the extension to be submitted to the National Park Authority. Dave brings a huge amount of experience having been closely involved with number of railway civil engineering projects, including the construction of the Porthmadog Cross-Town Rail Link on the Welsh Highland Railway. In the meantime, Roland Doyle continues to work on technical design aspects of the extension.
21st September 2019
The Trust’s fundraising efforts have been given a major boost over the past month thanks to the amazing efforts of Bala Badminton Club and the generosity of two new Gold subscribers to the Red Dragon Appeal.
The Bala Badminton Club held a sponsored 24 hour ‘bike ride’ on static bikes at the Bala Leisure Centre earlier in the summer. They aimed to cycle the equivalent of Bala to Cardiff and back, but they ended up going to Cardiff a second time and over half way back! They raised just short of £2000, and made it up to this sum, the amount being shared equally between the Trust and a charity in Wrexham. Lois Jones, who has worked seasonally for the railway in the café for several years, and her mother Nia, wanted to raise money for the railway, and the kindly club agreed to help out.
On accepting the cheque for £1,000 from the Club on behalf of the Bala Lake Railway Trust, the railway's General Manager David Jones said:
I would like to thank the club for their superb fundraising effort. The money raised will be going towards the extension of the railway into Bala town, and it is absolutely fantastic that part of the local community in Bala has raised such a large sum of money towards our goal, which will not only benefit the railway, but the town of Bala as well.
Julian Birley, Chairman of the Bala Lake Railway Trust, who is spearheading the work on extending the railway but was unfortunately not able to be present when the cheque was presented, said:
The support that we’ve had for extending the railway from Pen-y-Bont into the town has been overwhelming, with donations coming from all over the country. But it means so much more to us to see how the local community, and in particular the Bala Badminton Club have got behind our plans and gone to so much effort to this raise money. I can’t thank them enough.
The Red Dragon Appeal, which was launched to help raise funds for the Red Dragon Project to extend the railway, has now passed the £40,000 mark thanks to three new subscribers in the past month, two of whom have taken a Gold subscription, representing a donation to the Trust of £12,000. The project is gaining a huge amount of momentum, as demonstrated by the wonderful efforts of the Badminton Club and the extraordinary generosity of our subscribers.
If you have not yet become a subscriber to the Red Dragon Appeal, this would be a wonderful time to join. There are a range of fantastic benefits on offer, including the only way to secure a ticket on the inaugural, invitation-only train to run along the extension for you and your family. Please visit the appeal’s page for more details.
26th February 2019
The Trust is delighted to announce that its flagship Red Dragon Project, which is working towards extending the Bala Lake Railway to a new terminus in the town of Bala, has been awarded a £23,000 grant by the Magnox Socio Economic Fund.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority established the fund to mitigate the impact that decommissioning its nuclear power stations would have on local communities, and provides support for local employment, economic diversification and social infrastructure, and to improve education and skills provision.
Edward Selden, Trawsfynydd Closure Director, said:
The Magnox socio-economic scheme is providing invaluable support in the early stages of this transformational project, boosting the economy through tourism to the area and bringing much needed employment opportunities. This helps to build a sustainable future.
Describing the award, Trust Chairman Julian Birley BEM said:
This is fantastic news that gives further impetus to a project that continues to build momentum. There are now so many people on board with this project and it has got the town buzzing. With the necessary land purchases well in hand, we are getting ever nearer to the magic moment when we start laying track, although we still have a lot do before then.
Explaining how the Trust qualified, Julian added:
The extension means so much more than an extended running line; it will completely transform the fortunes of the town. The overwhelming support this project has from the local community shows how important it is to them and why it so important that we keep up the pace.
The grant will go towards the engineering consultancy necessary for the extension designs, in particular working with Natural Resources Wales to include the formation for the railway during their forthcoming scheme to upgrade the flood defences along Llyn Tegid.
25th October 2018
The Trust is pleased to annouce that funding has now been secured to purchase the next two pieces of land that will form part of the track bed of the extension of the railway to Bala Town Station. These are the strip of land alongside Bala Rugby Club, and the piece of land across the top of the two adjacent fields. The legal work to progress the purchase of both is underway and as ever, we are indebted to our solicitor, Lisa Williams, for all of her hard work, which she is providing free-of-charge on the Trust’s behalf.
For those who have looked at the updated plans, it can be seen that part of the extension will run along the lake foreshore, which will provide a stunning vista of Llyn Tegid and the mountains beyond. The Trust has been working closely with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), who have a remit to improve the town’s flood defences; as luck would have it, these works will provide us with the formation for this part of the route. Through collaboration with NRW, it is anticipated that they will carry out all the civil engineering works required for the railway to then lay the track.
The Trust has set a fundraising target of £150,000. Whilst we are delighted with the initial response to the launch of the Red Dragon Appeal, this really would be a fantastic time for you to become a subscriber if you have been considering it but have not yet signed up.
9th July 2018
We are pleased to publish revised plans for the planned route of the extension on the route page. The principal changes are a revision to the crossing over the River Dee, where the railway will share the bridge with the road, and the realignment of the route alongside the Bala Town Rugby Club.
1st March 2018
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::
14th December 2017
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.
27th October 2017
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.
3rd August 2017
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.
2nd April 2017
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:
18th February 2017
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:
11th February 2017
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.
7th January 2017
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.
23rd December 2016
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.
17th December 2016
4th December 2016
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.
29th November 2016
21st November 2016
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.
16th November 2016
We are pleased to announce that the Trust is now able to accept online donations through the MyDonate portal.
28th October 2016
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.