The Bala Lake Railway extension project has reached a milestone, with the design work being finalised which will take the narrow gauge railway into Bala Town.
A planning application will be submitted to the local authority later in 2020.
The railway was forced to close earlier in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis, but work continued behind the scenes with Caulmert, the engineering company brought in to design the new extension and assist the BLR Trust with the planning application.
Caulmert is completing an environmental impact assessment on the protected site and is producing designs that will be submitted to the Snowdonia National Park Authority in December 2020.
The current railway runs for 4.5 miles from its base in Llanuwchllyn to Pen-y-Bont. However, the £2.5m project will see another 3/4 mile of railway track laid to take the railway over 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’s Red Dragon project, which will also see a brand new station that will serve Bala. The project is expected to double the number of visitors to the railway, and also create 10 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 up to 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.”
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