The Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the World
After being founded by Act of Parliament in 1832, the railway was opened in 1836 as a gravity and horse drawn line to transport slate from the quarries in the mountains around Blaenau Ffestiniog to the sea at Porthmadog and then all over the globe.
The Ffestiniog Railway has influenced the design and construction of railways in many countries around the world. It introduced many innovative engineering solutions to cope with the rapid increase in output from the quarries and in the number of passengers it carried, including introducing the world's first bogie carriages. The line closed in 1946 but was restored after the War by volunteers, reopening in 1955. Today it is a thriving scenic railway, and very popular with tourists.
The line runs from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog and the journey begins by crossing the Cob, a mile-long embankment which holds back the sea, then past the entrance to Portmeirion. After Minffordd, the determined sounds of the powerful engines reflect the effort of pulling carriages high into the mountains through ancient oak woodlands and Coed y Bleiddiau (‘The Wood of the Wolves’).
The track loops over itself at Dduallt station, using the UK’s only railway spiral - a simple but effective way of gaining extra height without increasing the gradient. Mountains of slate - evidence of the town’s rich industrial heritage - surround you as the train arrives at Blaenau Ffestiniog station, which is shared with mainline trains that run on tracks that are twice as wide, along the Conwy Valley Line from Llandudno Junction.