Published: 26th August 2015
The first three mile section of the Welsh Highland Railway, between Dinas and Caernarfon, opened in 1997. Extensions followed in stages, its present 25-mile length being opened to Porthmadog in 2011 making WHR the UK's longest heritage railway. Throughout that time, the station at Caernarfon has been a temporary structure.
Following opening of the redeveloped station arrangement at Porthmadog serving WHR and Ffestiniog railways (a £1.3 million project) in May 2014 attention has switched to providing a high quality station at Caernarfon under the shadow of the famed castle walls.
Initial proposals for the new terminus were revealed last May. Two public consultation events in Caernarfon last year have resulted in ideas and suggestions made by local residents and visitors being incorporated into the latest version of the design now released.
The development, on land presently occupied by the railway's temporary station buildings and car park, envisages including retail, catering and display areas covering two floors. Work is projected as being likely to start in winter 2016-17.
"The plans for a new Caernarfon station building continue to make progress and the detailed process of gaining the necessary funding is now happening,” commented Dafydd Thomas, F&WHR Infrastructure Manager and Chairman of the Welsh Highland Railway Society. “In trying to secure the large amounts required - we are looking at about £2million - potential funders need a lot of detailed information. To that end, we are working closely with architects Purcell and other specialist companies.”
The railway is working with key stakeholders including Gwynedd Council, Cadw, the Harbour Trust, AMs, MPs and ministers in both Cardiff and Westminster. "The Harbour Trust has been extremely supportive of the development of a new station building from the start,” added Dafydd Thomas. “It is anticipated that the railway's passengers who arrive at Caernarfon will use their car park, as many already do."
F&WHR says the new Caernarfon station project will create new jobs and safeguard existing ones in addition to generating extra traffic (estimated as an extra 5,000 passengers each year) and revenue for both the F&WHR and the local economy. The F&WHR already provides significant benefits to the wider local economy, generating an estimated £25m each year and creating more than 400 jobs.