Designs for the Bala Lake Railway extension are being finalised ahead of a planning application later this year.
The tourist railway was forced to temporarily close due to Covid-19 but work continued behind the scenes with Caulmert, the engineering firm tasked with designing the new railway and assisting the Bala Lake Railway Trust with its planning application.
Caulmert’s Heritage Rail Team is completing an environmental impact assessment on the protected site and producing detailed designs to be submitted to Snowdonia National Park Authority in December.
The existing route of the Bala Lake Railway runs for 4½ miles from Llanuwchllyn to Pen-y-Bont station. The £2.5m project will see an additional 3/4 mile of railway laid to take the route across the River Dee and into Bala town.
Caulmert Civil Engineer, David High says “While the railway extension may be short in length, it is incredibly complex due to its surroundings. The site is protected and the new route takes it over a Grade 2 listed bridge, all in the Snowdonia National Park which presents many interesting challenges. Our engineers have been extremely innovative in overcoming some of these issues and making sure that the project will have minimal impact on the environmentally and historically sensitive site.”
The extension is part of The Bala Lake Railway Trust’s ambitious Red Dragon project which also includes a brand new station serving the town of Bala. The £2.5m project is expected to double visitor numbers and create ten jobs in the Bala area.
Julian Birley from The Bala Lake Railway Trust said “Extending the railway into Bala has been a long held wish going back forty-five years. With Caulmert’s expert help and guidance we are getting closer to making that a reality. We are building a new railway, not reinstating an old one, and being in such an environmentally sensitive area this task is by no means easy. Due to the Covid Pandemic, businesses have been decimated and the need for the extension is greater than ever before. Once in to Bala we will welcome upto 50,000 visitors a year and this will result in a boost for the local economy of in excess of £1M pa. We are hugely grateful to Caulmert and all that they are doing”