Wales //

Wales’ steam railways: six of the best

With the rising demand for quarried stone in the nineteenth century, quarry and mine owners had to find more economical ways than packhorses to get their products to market, but in the steep, tortuous valleys of Snowdonia, standard-gauge train tracks proved too unwieldy. The solution was rails, usually about 2ft apart, plied by steam engines and dinky rolling stock. The charm of these railways was recognized by train enthusiasts, and long after the decline of the quarries, they banded together to restore abandoned lines and locos. Most lines are still largely run by volunteers, who have also started up new services along unused sections of standard-gauge bed.

Tickets are generally sold separately, but ten railways (including all those listed here) operate as The Great Little Trains of Wales (GLT: wgreatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk) and offer a Discount Card (£10; valid 1 year), giving you 20 percent off the cost of the return journey on each of the GLT railways.

The railways below are listed north to south:

Snowdon Mountain Railway Llanberis.

Welsh Highland Railway Porthmadog.

Ffestiniog Railway Porthmadog.

Llangollen Railway Llangollen.

Talyllyn Railway Tywyn.

Vale of Rheidol Railway Aberystwyth.

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