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Welsh Highland Railway

Category: Narrow Gauge Railway

Website: http://www.welshhighlandrailway.net

The Welsh Highland Railway (WHR) is a narrow gauge railway in Wales, which originally ran from Dinas near Caernarfon to Porthmadog, with a branch line to Bryngwyn and the slate quarries at Moel Tryfan. The main line is in the process of restoration as a heritage railway. As of 2008 two sections of the line are open, a 13 mile section Caernarfon to Rhyd Ddu which is operated by the Festiniog Railway Company and a 1 mile section at Porthmadog which is operated by Welsh Highland Railway Limited. The full line from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, originally planned to open at Easter 2009, is now due to open in stages, on 7 April 2009, from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert, with the section through the Aberglaslyn Pass to Hafod-y-Llyn (briefly renamed Hen Hafod) on 21 May 2009. An opening date for the section between Hafod-y-Llyn and Porthmadog has not been set, however the FR Company have indicated that it will be after the 2009 peak season has concluded. The line opened to passengers in 1923 but was never a commercial success and went into receivership in 1927.[3] The service however continued, operated by the Festiniog Railway Company under a newly-signed 42-year lease, but only survived until 1937. Thus the WHR managed only fourteen years of operation, and the longest narrow gauge railway in Wales closed. The track was lifted during scrap collections in World War II.

The restored line is known as both Rheilffordd Ucheldir Cymru and Rheilffordd Eryri in Welsh. Rheilffordd Ucheldir Cymru - Welsh Highland Railway - has been used since 1980 by the Company operating the Porthmadog end of the line. Rheilffordd Eryri - literally Snowdonia Railway - is a brand name used by the Caernarfon end. The original Welsh Highland never had an official Welsh translation of its name, despite running through the heartland of the Welsh language. Locals tended to refer to it by informal names such as Y Lein Bach or Lein Bach Beddgelert (the little Beddgelert railway).

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