Published: 31st August 2016
The temporary building and car park which has served the revived Welsh Highland Railway since 1997 is about to be consigned to history. Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway (F&WHR) has announced work will start shortly on a new £2.2million station, forming a key part of the £16million Waterfront Development Project led by Gwynedd County Council.
Plans for the new station close to Caernarfon Castle were first unveiled last year, see www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/whr-plans-2-million-station-for-caernarfon/ . The railway held a number of public consultation events in the town and has incorporated ideas and suggestions made by local residents and visitors into the new two-storey design.
This includes retail, catering and a spacious modern interpretation area showcasing the history of the quayside area and the railway. Architects will start work in September to finalise the design details of the development.
With funding arrangements for the new building described as, “well advanced”, F&WHR confirms work will begin in November when contractors commence relocation of a large sewer which runs under the site. Construction of the new station is scheduled to begin in March 2017 for completion in Spring 2018.
With the development utilising land currently occupied by Welsh Highland Railway's temporary station buildings and car park, negotiations are in progress with a nearby landowner to rent temporary accommodation for station facilities. Passengers arriving at Caernarfon by road will be able to use the Caernarfon Harbour Trust car park, the trust being extremely supportive of the new station project. Santa trains for the forthcoming Christmas will run from Dinas rather than Caernarfon, with F&WHR saying the operation promises to be even better this year as a number of new features are to be introduced.
The new station at Caernarfon, offering much improved visitor facilities, will help to increase visitor numbers to the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway by an estimated 5,000 passengers each year. F&WHR already provides significant benefits to the wider local economy, generating an estimated £25m each year and creating more than 400 jobs.
The three-mile section of today’s Welsh Highland Railway, from Dinas (the original WHR terminus) to Caernarfon opened in 1997. The line was extended in stages from Dinas reaching the revived lines full 25-mile length through to Porthmadog in 2011. By making an end-on junction with Ffestiniog Railway at Porthmadog, F&WHR became the UK's longest heritage railway. The station at Porthmadog was redeveloped in a £1.3million project completed in May 2014.