Founded in 1832, the Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world. In 1863, it introduced the world’s first narrow gauge steam locomotives, four of which still remain. The railway was originally a gravity and horse drawn line for transporting slate from the mountain quarries around Blaenau Ffestiniog. Slates were then exported from Porthmadog to destinations across the globe.
The Ffestiniog line is notable for its fleet of unique Double Fairlie locomotives. These were built by the railway’s own engineers in the oldest railway workshops in use anywhere in the world. Now one of Wales’ top tourist attractions, the railway enables visitors to enjoy both the historic trains and the beauty of Snowdonia. The route passes through many stunning areas which are inaccessible by road. Passengers can revel in the imposing peaks, ancient forests, gorgeous lakes and pretty waterfalls.
The journey from Porthmadog Harbour to Blaenau Ffestiniog is 13.5 miles. The trains climb over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains through amazing scenery, negotiating steep bends and tunnels. Taking visitors back to yesteryear but in amazing comfort, the railway offers a unique experience which changes throughout the seasons. The full journey takes 70 minutes (one way) and the train stops at Miniffordd and Plas Tany Bwlch along the way. There are also request stops at Boston Lodge, Penrhyn, Plas Halt, Dduallt and Tanygrisiau. If you want to get off a train at one of the request stops, tell the guard before you get on the train, to ensure you are seated in the right carriage. If you want to get on a train at one of the request stops, please give a clear signal to the engine driver as the train comes into sight (hold out your arm).
The Ffestiniog Railway timetable varies throughout the year, so check this before booking a holiday if you are keen to ride the railway.