Steam train on show in drive to raise £4m for line to Bala centre



A steam train is on show in a Gwynedd town to help raise £4m to build a permanent track into it. It's at the site of a planned new station in Bala that will sit at the end of three-quarters of a mile (1.2km) of new track. It's hoped bringing trains into Bala town centre will help the economy and boost the railway's fortunes.

Bala Lake Railway manager David Jones said it was always the plan to extend the line.

At present narrow gauge trains run four-and-a-half miles from Llanuwchllyn along the shore of Llyn Tegid to the outskirts of Bala. The original intention had been for the new station to be about 200 yards (183m) from the centre but people asked for to it be moved right into town.

Mr Jones said: "We have found a new site right at the end of the high street. The current station is a "10 or 15 minute walk" from the town centre. It will benefit the railway by being in town, but it will benefit the town even more. It will help us put something back into the community, we want to see it thriving. We are a tourist attraction. But if we can benefit the town that makes us feel much better about what we are doing. So far about £1m has been raised for the track extension. We still have another three to four million pounds to raise to complete the construction of the line. That might sound a lot but compared to your average roundabout it's peanuts."

The hope is the new line and station will be open by 2024. The line will have to cross the River Dee and a level crossing will be built to cross the B4403.

"You're going to get three-quarters of a mile of railway, a fantastic station and all that will bring the town," said Mr Jones. "We are appealing to the public as part of the event," Mr Jones said. He added that he was also in talks about receiving assorted grants, but he was keeping the details under wraps.

"We're sworn to secrecy," he said.

The design for the new station was also revealed on Saturday and has been taken from two others in Wales

"We are on the verge of putting in our planning application and we are revealing the design of the new station for the first time," said Mr Jones. "It's looking rather superb. We have taken our inspiration from stations at Oswestry and Llanidloes. Those two buildings both had similarities. I don't know if they were designed by the same people but they gave us inspiration."

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