Since the Welsh Highland opened in the town in 1997, when it ran just three miles to Dinas, the 25 mile line – the UK's longest heritage railway - has been extended in stages, finally opening to Porthmadog in 2011. Throughout that time, Caernarfon Station has been a temporary structure.
With the opening of the £1.3 million redevelopment of Porthmadog Harbour Station in May this year, attention is now turning to the provision of a station of the high quality the historic town of Caernarfon deserves. The railway held two public consultation events in the town earlier this year and has incorporated ideas and suggestions made by local residents and visitors into the proposed design, which will include retail, catering and display areas covering two floors.
The £1.2m project to provide a new station at Caernarfon will create new jobs and safeguard existing ones in addition to generating extra traffic and revenue for both the F&WHR and the local economy. The railway is working with key stakeholders including Gwynedd Council, Cadw, the Harbour Trust, AMs, MPs and ministers in both Cardiff and Westminster. It is possible that work could start as soon as the end of the year. The location of the new station does not preclude the construction of an extension should the standard gauge line between Bangor and Caernarfon be reinstated at some point in the future.
The new station at Caernarfon will help to increase visitor numbers to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway by an estimated 5,000 visitors per annum. The F&WHR already provides significant benefits to the wider local economy, generating an estimated £25m each year and creating more than 400 jobs.
It is expected that the additional visitors it will bring will provide the following additional benefits:
• 2 full-time jobs
• An additional three-quarters of a million pounds of additional spend in the local economy
• 19 additional indirect jobs locally
• 152 safeguarded jobs locally through sustaining visitor numbers
• New volunteering opportunities within the station and railway
• Develop the scheme towards a planning application (RIBA Stage D)
• Finalise the cost plan
• Further consultation with key stakeholders
• Seek further funding for the project. The current estimated build cost is anticipated to be in the region of £1.2 million